Hearing Aids – What’s in ‘Em?
Ah, the humble hearing aid – a fantastic little invention, yet one which does all its hard work for very little recognition. In fact, some hearing aids are now so small that you can barely see them unless you really try, so we think the poor little things are overworked and under appreciated.
If you are a sufferer of the blight that is hearing loss, you know what we’re talking about here – they’re great, aren’t they? Life just wouldn’t be the same without them!
No more struggling to read lips or turning up the TV so loud that the Johnsons three doors down complain that they can’t sleep; just increase the volume in your ear!
Nowadays, hearing aids are nice and compact, getting rid of the hassle that plagued previous generations.As a sign of respect to these unknown soldiers, we’re going to take a little look at what it is that powers them. We’ll take one apart and look at its insides, and you’re coming along for the ride!
Probably the most obvious bit (except for maybe the batteries), the microphone is integral to the system. Basically, what the microphone does is to transform the sound signal received into handy electrical impulses. These can be more accurately amplified, giving you a louder, clearer sound.
Possibly variations on the standard include the directional microphone. This filters any sounds which might be coming in from maybe, allowing you to hear more clearly the things that you’re focusing on. No more background noise hassles!
What does the amplifier do? Well… it er… amplifies. Obviously. After the mike has changed the sound into impulses, the amplifier then increases the volume of said impulse.
It will firstly go through what’s known as the pre-amplifier; this increases the input signal by a smaller amount, then sends the amplified signal to the power amplifier which does the real heavy lifting.
Because there are different types of amplifiers, all classified in terms of overall gain and power consumption, choosing a good one can be a tricky task. You’re probably best off asking an audiologist or reading the Boots hearingcare FAQ.
This part tends to be the biggest; it’s the “box” you can often see on the back of a Behind the Ear hearing aid. It receives the electrical signals from the amplifier, and turns them back into sound waves.
If your hearing is particularly bad, you should probably opt for one of the larger models – an In the Canal hearing aid is simply not going to cut it.
Batteries these days come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they’re thankfully all compact enough so that we don’t have to bring along an extra bag to carry them in! The most commonly-used hearing aid battery is the “zinc-air” battery, which gets its name from the fact that they’re only activated when they come into contact with the air.
They’re just like the ones see find on electronic toys – you have to pull out the card tab to start the batteries working. These batteries should last around a week or so.