Today’s hearing aids are a lot like mini computers for your ears. They feature some of the latest technology packed inside. To find the hearing aid that best meets your needs, it helps to have an understanding of its basic components and parts.
There are two basic types of hearing aids: behind the ear (BTE), which includes Receiver-In-The-Canal (RIC) style and in the ear (ITE) which are custom-made to fit entirely inside your ear. The various styles of hearing aids are made for ranges of hearing loss that are divided into categories: mild, moderate, severe and profound hearing loss.
Behind the Ear (BTE)– This hearing device is comprised of a plastic casing that sits behind the ear, connecting to a custom made earmold.
Completely in Canal (CIC)– This device is custom-fit and rests in the ear canal. A small plastic piece which serves as a handle is used to insert and remove the hearing aid.
In the Canal (ITC)-This hearing aid is custom-fit to the ear canal and is nearly invisible, with just a small visible plastic piece.
Receiver in the Ear (RIC)-This is a hybrid that features a speaker in the ear canal, attached to a thin electronic wire and a small plastic casing that sits behind the ear.
Hearing Aid Components and Parts
All hearing aids have three basic components: the microphone, amplifier and speaker. The microphone picks up sound and converts it into electrical signals, which are then sent to the amplifier, which functions like a computer. The amplifier gathers the sound waves, which are then converted into electrical signals and sent through the speaker and into the ears.
Other parts may differ, depending on the type of hear aid, but include those below.
Ear Hook-This is for BTE hearing aids and hooks over the upper portion of the outside of the ear to hold the device in place.
Earmold-Plastic earmolds are formed to the ear canal and serve to provide a seal for the sound receiver inside the ear. Found in both behind-the-ear and RIC models.
Connecting Tubing-In behind-the-ear hearing aid models, connecting tubes transmit the microphone sounds into the earmold. These plastic tubes vary in length depending on the hearing aid model.
Battery Compartment-The battery is a component for both BTE and ITE hearing aids.
Additional hearing aid parts include:
- Volume control, available in some hearing aid styles, allows for adjusting the sound.
- A vent, which provides airflow for the device, improving the sound of the user’s own voice by reducing a phenomenon called occlusion.
- A wax guard, which prevents earwax from affecting the hearing aid components.
Hearing Aid Replacement Parts
Hearing aids are vulnerable to environmental factors, including heat, humidity, moisture and naturally occurring debris and earwax. They usually last from about three to five years. During that time, hearing aid parts may occasionally need to be repaired or replaced. Since that may be costly, it is important to take good care of a hearing aid device.
Keep in mind the following tips:
- Keep hearing aids clean and dry.
- Use only soft cloth or appropriate cleaning tools to clean them, with no direct exposure to water.
- When storing hearing aids while not in use, leave the battery pack open to preserve the battery power.
- Replace parts when they become discolored, stiff or brittle.
- Consult your audiologist or hearing instrument specialist for guidance on when to replace parts or purchase new hearing aids.
In addition to offering cosmetic improvements, today’s state-of-the-art hearing aids prevent whistling noises, provide excellent sound quality and processing speed, delivering sound to the user in milliseconds. They may also include Bluetooth technology, which makes it possible to receive quality sound streamed wirelessly from smartphones, televisions, tablets and other devices.
If you want to purchase hearing aids or have one repaired, request an appointment at Sonora Hearing Care.