How do hearing aids work?

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When we hear something, it’s because our ears pick up sounds that are vibrating through the air. Our ears are specially shaped to catch these vibrations and send them to our eardrums, so our brains can figure out what we’re hearing!  Some people have trouble hearing though, and to help, they may use an electronic device called a hearing aid.

Hearing aids are very small, so most of the time we don’t notice people are wearing them at all. They have three main parts. The first is a microphone just like the kind someone might sing into, except a lot smaller. Its job is to pick up sound traveling near the ear. The second part is an amplifier, which makes the sound louder. And the third part is a speaker, which often looks like an ear bud you might use with an iPod or other music player. It plays the loud sound directly into the ear of the person wearing the hearing aid.   

The sound that gets played back by the hearing aid is much louder than a normal sound would be, but because the people wearing hearings aid have difficulty hearing, to them the sounds seem to be at a normal volume.

Hearing aids can’t help everyone with hearing loss. If a person can’t hear anything at all, making sounds louder would not be much help.

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Exploration

    Soundscapes

    Close your eyes for a moment and listen to the sounds around you. Can you hear the hum of the computer? What about the sound of a family member breathing? Can you hear traffic outside, or voices talking far away?

    Think about how much sound tells us about the world around us. What can you learn about the space you’re in just by listening? Can you tell where people are? Can you tell what machines are being used?

    Sounds are only one of many ways we explore the world around us. How does someone with difficulty hearing or someone who is deaf explore the world around him or her? What other senses do we use?
  • Sources & links

    "hearing aid." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 08 Apr. 2010 . “Hearing Aids.” National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Online. 7 Apr. 2010.
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