How Do Hearing Aids Work?

What Are Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are small electronic devices that can be worn in or behind your ear. These devices amplify sound in quiet and noisy environments for those with hearing loss and also allows people to communicate and fully participate in everyday activities. However, very few people out of the many that have hearing loss actually use hearing aids to benefit from it.

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Generally, hearing aids consist of three parts:

  1. A microphone
  2. An amplifier
  3. A speaker

The microphone picks up sound then converts those sound waves to electrical signals and transmits them to the amplifier. The amplifier then increases the power of those electrical signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.

How Can Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing aids help improve one’s hearing and speech comprehension for those who are diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is due to damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. Damage can be caused by aging, disease, or injuries from loud noises.

With the use of hearing aids, these devices are able to amplify sound vibrations that enter the ear. The surviving hair cells will pick up the larger vibrations and turn them into neural signals to transmit to the brain. The more damage there is to a person’s hair cells, the more critical the hearing loss is, so there is a greater amplification needed from the hearing aids to compensate for the difference. Although, in some instances, when hair cells are too damaged, hearing aids cannot help since those damaged hair cells cannot convert the sound vibrations into neural signals. 

What Kind of Hearing Aids are Available For Me?

There are various types of hearing aids, ranging in sizes, prices, and features. Below are common hearing aid styles. Because there is such a high demand for smaller hearing aids, designers continue to create smaller ones that aren’t very noticeable. However, smaller hearing aids may not provide the improved hearing you may want.

Black Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid
Starkey Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aid
  • Behind-the-ear (BTE): BTE is worn behind the ear and has a tube connecting that hearing aid to the earpiece that fits in your ear canal. This type of hearing aid is suitable for people of all ages and for those with almost any type of hearing loss. 
    • Largest type of hearing aid; although, there are newer designs that make the hearing aid barely visible
    • Capable of more amplification than other types of hearing aids
    • Contains directional microphones
    • May pick up more wind noise than other types of hearing aids
    • May come with a rechargeable battery


Housing color beige Widex Hearing Aids
Widex In-The-Ear Hearing Aids
  • In-the-ear (ITE): ITE completely fits the outer ear and typically is used for mild to severe hearing loss. 
    • Some ITE aids include a telecoil, which makes it easier for people to hear through the phone
    • Picks up more wind noise than smaller devices
    • May include other features that smaller aids may not have, like volume control
    • Longer battery life
    • Susceptible to earwax clogging speaker
Eargo Neo HiFi Hearing Aids
  • In-the-canal (ITC): ITC aids are generally smaller devices that are used for mild to moderate hearing loss. 
    • Custom modled 
    • Fits partly in ear canal
    • Less visible than larger hearing aids
    • Susceptible to earwax clogging speaker
Starkey's CIC hearing aid is designed to be less visible than other types of hearing aids.
  • Completely-in-the-canal (CIC): CIC devices are made to fit inside your ear canal and are used by adults who have mild to moderate hearing loss. 
    • Smallest and least visible kind of hearing aid
    • Not as likely to pick up wind noise as other hearing aids
    • Shorter battery life since it uses very small batteries
    • Usually doesn’t include a variety of feature that larger hearing aids may have
    • Susceptible to earwax clogging speaker

What Kind of Hearing Aid Will Work Best For Me?

Depending on what kind of hearing loss you have and the severity of it will determine what kind of hearing aid best suits you. Hearing aids are usually recommended for people diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears so that it helps people with speech comprehension and locating where the sound comes from. It’s important to note that hearing aids won’t restore your hearing. However, regular usage of hearing aids will improve your hearing.

Thank you for reading about how hearing aids work. We hope that this was informative and helped you better understand the benefits of using a hearing aid. As previously mentioned, the signs and symptoms listed here do not replace formal audiometry conducted by your doctor. Be sure to have your hearing tested regularly with a hearing healthcare professional. Together, you can develop an individualized plan to prevent, protect, and better manage your hearing health.

We’ve also shared our article, 6 Cutting Edge Bluetooth Hearing Aids To Consider.

And if interested in learning more about the history and technologies behind hearing aids, please check out our post from our friends over at Soundly.

AudioCardio is a technology company focused on hearing health and wellness. Learn how AudioCardio can help maintain and strengthen your hearing with your favorite headphones or hearing aids at