How do hearing aids work?

The right hearing aid, finely tuned and expertly adjusted to the exact hearing loss and hearing abilities of its wearer, can make a life-changing difference to the way that person connects with their world.  And in the same way, mobile phones have evolved at dizzyingly-fast rates, digital hearing aid technology has taken incredible strides forward to become the sophisticated, advanced communication devices available today. But how do hearing aids work, when should you consider getting one and when should you consider replacing yours? Read on to hear the full story.

What are hearing aids used for?

While they can’t restore normal hearing, hearing aids work to amplify the sounds a person with hearing loss struggles to hear in both quiet and noisy situations.

But this basic explanation only relates to the physical aspects of what hearing aids are used for – not the profound, personal benefits they provide to someone with hearing loss.

How can hearing aids help?

A person’s ability to feel connected to the people, communities and activities around them can be dramatically reduced by hearing loss. So what today’s hearing aids are especially good for is helping people listen, understand, communicate and participate in their world much more fully and effectively than their hearing loss allows them to.

For example, some digital hearing aids can isolate the voice of a person a user is talking with while also suppressing the sound waves from background noise that might otherwise overwhelm and drown out a conversation.

Hearing aids are primarily helpful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have ‘sensorineural’ hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory hair cells in the inner ear. The damage can be due to disease, ageing, injury from noise or as a side-effect of certain medications.

How a Typical Hearing Aid Works

Hearing aids are small electronic devices that magnify the sound vibrations that enter the ear. While the styles and types of hearing aids can vary greatly and many can be highly customised to suit different types of hearing loss, all-digital hearing aids consist of the same key components:

  1. A microphone
  2. An amplifier
  3. A speaker
  4. A battery
  5. A computer chip programmed by your hearing care professional to ensure your hearing aids work according to your particular hearing loss and individual needs.

The most sophisticated models provide even more additional features, such as a direct connection to a smartphone or neural networks. 

Here’s how the typical hearing aid work:

  1. One (or more) microphones pick up a sound
  2. The computer chip analyses and processes that sound
  3. The processed sound is amplified and sent to the speaker
  4. The speaker transmits the processed sound to the inner ear through tubing to the ear canal or via a thin wire to a receiver in the ear
  5. The surviving hair cells in the inner ear detect the vibrations and convert them into neural electrical signals that are passed along to the brain. The inner ear transforms the sounds into electrical impulses, which the brain receives and processes into sound.

Hearing Aid Diagram

hearing aid components

When should you get new hearing aids?

Hearing aids go wherever the person using them goes, so like anything else worn on the body, they get exposed to sweat, hot sun, rain, humidity, extreme temperatures, dust, dirt and so much more. But with care, regular maintenance and occasional repair, they can keep functioning very well for years. Over time, though, there are some signs that might suggest it’s time to consider replacing or upgrading your hearing aids:

Your hearing ability seems different

If things seem to have changed, you need to find out whether the reason is your hearing or your hearing aid. If you have noticed a difference in the performance of your hearing aid devices, you can take an online hearing test now by clicking here.

Your day-to-day has changed

A new job, different living arrangements or a new special interest could all be good reasons to consider switching to different, more specialised hearing aid options different to what you use now. If, for example, you’ll soon be working in a crowded, busy environment, your current hearing aid may not have the right features (such as directional microphones) to have conversations not drowned out by background noise. Our hearing healthcare specialists can assess if your current devices are still suitable, or may be able to adjust them so they work better. Book your hearing tests today.

New Products

New hearing aid technology continues to introduce new features and better options for improved hearing and better listening experiences. If you’re interested in potentially getting more out of your hearing devices, it may be time for an upgrade. To explore further, please get in touch with our hearing specialists here.

How often do you have to replace a hearing aid?

Hearing aid devices can last up to five years – sometimes longer. So even if you’re quite satisfied with the performance and features of your hearing aids today, a variety of factors can impact how long your hearing aid lasts:


Performance may change over time as technical components become clogged with moisture, wax and other debris. Maintaining your hearing aid appropriately will greatly extend its lifespan.

Wear & Tear

The more often you wear your hearing aid devices, the more wear and tear they are potentially exposed to.


Electronic devices are fragile and some devices are built to last longer than others.

If you feel like your hearing aids are not working as well as they once did, it may be time to replace them. Miniaturisation has made new hearing aids virtually invisible and the latest technology has drastically improved hearing care while making available a host of impressive features that can seamlessly integrate with your lifestyle.

To see our current range of hearing aids, click here.

Your Hearing Technology Experts

If some of these symptoms ring true for you, you may be experiencing hearing loss. Thankfully, modern technology has created hearing aids that deliver truly amazing hearing improvements while remaining virtually undetectable.

Bay Audio are the hearing technology experts, and can find the perfect hearing aid for you to ensure you can continue to enjoy life as normal. If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, book a hearing test with one of our experts now.