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Hearing Aids: An Overview

Hearing aids are electronic devices that pick up and amplify sound. By amplifying sound, sounds that the wearer normally would not hear are increased in volume and therefore better delivered to the ear.
There are many different degrees and types of hearing impairment (see
"Types of Hearing Loss"). Technology has paved the way for many innovative hearing devices designed to improve a broad range of hearing impairments.

Hearing Aid Components

  • Microphone(s). The microphone gathers sound and converts it to electrical impulses. Sometimes, more than one microphone is in the hearing aid. Different microphones allow the hearing aid to pick up sound from different areas.
  • Amplifier. An amplifier is used to increase the strength of the electrical impulses.
  • Receiver. The receiver transforms the electrical impulses back into sound waves and redirects them into the ear of the wearer.
  • Battery. A battery is needed to supply the energy source.

Other Components

  • There are switches on the aid that turn the device on or off, allow for telephone usage or provide the ability to control volume.
  • A computer chip is found in programmable hearing aids.
  • Programs offer various sounds for a variety of listening environments. As an example, one program may be for conversations, another for the telephone and a third for noisy situations. An aid can come with numerous programs and the wearer may manually change back and forth between different programs, while some aids switch automatically.

Hearing Aid Evaluation/Dispensing

A hearing aid evaluation determines which hearing device is the most appropriate for each patient. The Ear Institute of Chicago dispensary works with a variety of manufacturers and offers several styles and types of hearing instruments, including programmable and digital hearing aids. All patients are given the option of a 30-day trial period before purchase. The purchase price includes all visits for the duration of the warranty after purchase.

Click here for a discussion of Types of Hearing Aids.