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What to Expect From a Hearing Aid

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Updated March 04, 2011

What is a hearing aid?

Hearing aids come in different flavors, but hearing aids generally share three basic common components:

  • An ear mold, if there is one.
  • A volume control area.
  • A place for the hearing aid battery.

Click here for a picture of a hearing aid showing a traditional BTE style hearing aid, with an ear mold and volume control. The battery storage area is underneath the hearing aid.

The microphone of the hearing aid takes the sound and sends it to an internal processor that amplifies the sound, before passing it on to the wearer of the hearing aid through the plastic tubing (tone hook) into the earmold.

What Hearing Aids Can Not Do

When I was growing up deaf, I would explain to curious hearing people that a hearing aid was "like a radio that lets you hear the words to a song, but you do not understand the words." Hearing aids amplify sounds, but do not make sound clearer (the amount of clarity varies depending on the individual's hearing loss; my own hearing loss was profound, so I could not understand what I heard). The user of a hearing aid must have auditory training to learn how to use and discriminate sounds, and interpret them. Generally, when people spoke to me, I had to rely on a combination of lipreading and sound, later augmented with sign language.

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