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How A Hearing Aid Mimics An Actual Ear

By:   |   Jul 08, 2018   |   Views: 7   |   Comments: 0

In this current world of high-tech gadgetry and medical innovations, people with any slight discomfort or disability no longer need to live in a world of either pain or shame.  If someone loses a leg, a prostatic one can easily be fabricated and utilized to help the person walk without crutches. If someone accidentally cuts a finger off, a doctor can sew it back on, nerves connected and all.

One device that has been around for quite sometime is the hearing aid, that little contraption that returns lost conversations and unforgettable music not only to the elderly but also to people of all ages. A world of silence can sometimes be a sad and lonely place, making it difficult for people with hearing loss to communicate with others. Luckily, with the current advances in hearing aid technology, people can once again listen to the birds chirping in the morning or their favorite Rolling Stones track.  Additionally, with the newest devices becoming smaller and more advanced, many people are non the wiser that someone they know may actually be using an aid.

The most fascinating part about a hearing aid is how it mimics the way an ear works, since the ear is one of the most complicated and sensitive body parts.  As most people know, the ear is made up of an ear canal, an eardrum, three tiny bones, the cochlea and the auditory nerve.  Without getting too scientific or bogged down with terms, when someone hears a noise, the sound waves travel down through the ear canal until meeting the eardrum and causing it to vibrate. Those vibrations travel across the three tiny bones until they meet the cochlea, which is that shell-shaped structure on an ear diagram. From there, the vibrations transform into electrical currents in the auditory nerve and travel to the brain, which processes the noise. If someone has hearing problems, they are normally attributed to an issue with either the three tiny bones or the cochlea.

In order to combat ear damage, a hearing aid basically utilizes its four key parts - a microphone, an amplifier, a receiver/speaker and a battery (the ladder is solely for providing power) - to mimic the noise to the brain process.  When a sound is made, the aid's microphone picks it up and turns it into an electrical signal.  The amplifier then takes that signal and intensifies the volume before passing it to the receiver/speaker, which transforms the electrical signal back into a sound.  From there, the sound is sent through the ear, straight to the brain for processing.

Now, even though it is an amazing device, a hearing aid still comes with its fair share of problems.  The principal issue is that unlike an ear, an aid has a hard time deciphering which sounds to pick up. Therefore, background noise from the environment - such as wind - or from a crowded room can easily be confused with what someone is actually listening to.  However, since many of the devices fit within the ear canal and have such features as volume control, these specific problems can more than likely be avoided. Plus, with technology constantly advancing, there may be a time when the actual device may replicate an ear, performing all of its actions in the exact same way.  All anyone can do is just wait and see.

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