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What are the parts of a hearing aid?

Explore your hearing aids to understand and troubleshoot its technology.

Miracle-Ear hearing aid range

Hearing aid parts

Your hearing aids are full of small pieces of delicate technology. By learning about the parts that make up your devices, you can better understand how they support your hearing. 

What are the most common types of hearing aids?

Hearing aids are delicate, yet incredibly powerful, electronic devices that assist your hearing by prescriptively amplifying the sounds around you. They’re packed with important technology and tools that not only make hearing easier and listening more enjoyable. But how do they work? What hearing aid parts actually make up your devices? There are many styles of hearing aids, but all can be categorized into three common types: Behind-the-ear (BTE), In-the-ear (ITE) and Receiver-in-canal (RIC) devices.

  • BTE hearing aids: The main portion of the hearing aid sits behind the ear, transmitting sound into the ear through a clear plastic tube. The larger size of this style allows it to include numerous advanced features, such as direct audio streaming and rechargeability. BTE devices also require larger batteries, this style has a longer battery life. These hearing aids offer the most powerful sound amplification and are recommended for people living with severe or profound hearing loss.
  • ITE hearing aids: These hearing aids are custom molded to sit comfortably inside your ear canal, making them the small and most discreet style. ITE devices are packed with advanced features and are ideal for an on-the-go lifestyle and people who wear glasses.
  • RIC hearing aids: Receiver-in-canal hearing aids are the most popular kind of hearing aid. They’re similar to BTE hearing aids in that some parts of the hearing aid sit behind the ear. However, RIC hearing aids are typically slimmer and smaller, and offer both a natural listening experience and discreet looks. This style magnifies sounds in all frequency ranges, making them a strong option for people with all types and levels of hearing loss.

Miracle-Ear offers a range of models of each of these types of hearing aids, and a licensed hearing care professional can help you determine which style will work best for your lifestyle and hearing loss needs. No matter which type you wear, all hearing aids are made up of the same basic structures that help process and amplify sound. The biggest difference between styles is where these components sit in the ear and the power of these hearing aids parts.

BTE hearing aids parts

BTE hearing aids

The main parts of the BTE hearing aids

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ITE hearing aids parts

ITE hearing aids

The main parts of the ITE hearing aids

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RIC hearing aids parts

RIC hearing aids

The main parts of the RIC hearing aids

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What are the basic components of all hearing aids?

Each of the three types of hearing aids, regardless of style, comes with four basic hearing aid parts: the microphone, the amplifier, the speaker and the battery. On the most basic level, here’s what the parts of a hearing aid do:

  • Microphone: Picks up sounds in your environment
  • Amplifier: Turns sound into an electrical signal
  • Speaker: Sends sound back into the ear
  • Battery: Charge the hearing aid for daily use Sound Processor: Processes the sound to make speech as clear as possible

That’s a quick description. But there’s so much more to learn about the detailed mechanics and functions of these hearing aid parts. Let’s dig in:

The microphone picks up sound from your surroundings. The sound is then sent to the sound processor  where it distinguishes between types of sounds like speech, as opposed to background noise. This ensures that you’re actually able to hear the sounds you want to hear. Once sounds are picked up by the microphone, they are sent to the sound processor and then the amplifier.

When sounds are received, the amplifier applies amplification. How much a sound is amplified depends on the degree of hearing loss you are experiencing, which is determined using audiograms and testing with a hearing care professional. This amplification allows you to clearly pick up on sounds that they might not otherwise hear. The amplifier then sends the electrical signals to the speaker.

The electrical signals are then converted into acoustic signals (sound) that you can hear. It’s the job of the speaker to deliver that sound into your ears from the amplifier. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, this hearing aid part may be in a different position in or on the ear. 

Just as you use batteries to power other electronics, the batteries in your hearing aids keep your devices running as you wear them. Depending on the type and age of your hearing aids, your devices will feature either rechargeable or disposable batteries.

Many of the latest hearing aid models, including BTE and ITE hearing aids, use rechargeable batteries that recharge overnight. Before you go to bed at night, you place devices in a docking station to power up for the next day. A charge usually lasts for an entire day’s use or longer.

Disposable batteries are most commonly found in hearing aids for severe or profound hearing loss, because they require greater battery power. The size of these batteries depends on the level of power needed, the severity of the hearing loss and the size of the hearing aid itself. Size influences how long disposable batteries last, with smaller batteries having a shorter life than larger ones. Generally, non-rechargeable hearing aids have a battery life of anywhere from five to 14 days, based on 16 hours of daily use.

To ensure your batteries are ready for the next day and all of your hearing aids parts are able to perform at their best, it’s a good idea to create a nightly care routine. Everyday cleaning and maintenance are necessary to keep your hearing aids in good working condition (and to protect your investment in them!). Each night before going to bed, wipe down your hearing aids with a soft, dry cloth to clean off any debris from the components and check battery levels. Click here to find more tips for building a hearing aid cleaning routine.

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What are the additional parts and controls on hearing aids?

Beyond the basic components that make hearing happen, hearing aids also include other features that create a more natural, easy listening experience and help you hear the sounds you enjoy most. Some of these hearing aid parts may look different depending on which model and type you’re wearing, but most devices include some form of these features. 

Usually located on the body of the hearing aid, the rocker switch or button gives you control of numerous settings on the device. It can be used to adjust volume in new settings, switch between pre-set programs or shift the span of the directional microphone focus. When you choose a style of hearing aids, your hearing care professional will set up the settings that this hearing aid part is able to control.

While the majority of hearing aids adapt automatically when you move between different sound environments, most also include a volume control to manually adjust the loudness of sounds. This hearing aid part allows users to make small changes as needed. 

To quickly and easily transition to new listening environments, some hearing aids have a memory control that lets you switch between pre-set programs. Your hearing care professional will evaluate both the results of your audiogram and your lifestyle needs to create specific programs to save onto your devices. Settings are then synced to the Miracle-Ear smartphone app, which allows you to control the setting of your hearing aids from the palm of your hand.

Primarily found on BTE devices, ear hooks are the clear plastic tube that attaches to the device and loops over the ear. This component connects the body of the hearing aid to the speaker in the ear, while also holding the hearing aid in place on the ear. 

This hearing aid part sits snugly inside the ear canal, creating a seal for the sounds your hearing aids are sending into the ear. Ear molds look slightly different for every wearer—their shape and fit depends on both the model of hearing aid you’ve chosen and the severity of your hearing loss. As the name might suggest, these hearing aid parts are molded to the specific contours of your ear to give you maximum comfort and prevent feedback from slipping out.

Due to the powerful amplification this piece provides, ear molds are typically recommended for users with severe hearing loss.

If you have a RIC type hearing aids , your hearing aids may have a dome rather than an ear mold. These hearing aid parts are small, bell-shaped silicone pieces that attach to the end of the hearing aid tubing and fit in the ear canal. Domes come in a variety of sizes to fit the unique contours of your ear canal, and your hearing care professional will guide you through fitting. If the domes are poorly fitted to your ears, sound can escape and create feedback in the hearing aid. When worn properly, these parts of the hearing aid shouldn’t be visible in the ear.

Domes should be cleaned on a daily basis using a soft cloth to wipe off any debris or ear wax. These pieces are easy and inexpensive to replace if anything goes wrong with them.

These hearing aid parts help maintain airflow through the hearing aid or ear mold to prevent congestion and discomfort and to avoid painful ear infections.

The size of the vents on your hearing aids will depend on the degree of your hearing loss. They are most useful for cases of mild to moderate hearing loss, where the venting of sound doesn’t reach the microphone and cause feedback. For hearing aid models designed to address severe hearing loss, there might not be a vent at all. 

Ear wax can cause problems with both your hearing and your hearing aids if it accumulates in the ear or on your device. Wax guards are parts of a hearing aid that capture ear wax, debris and moisture, preventing these particles from entering and clogging the hearing aid. These small plastic screens not only help your hearing aids function better, but also extend the lifetime of your device. Hearing aid wax filters should be replaced once a month, depending on how much ear wax your ears produce.

Also known as a T-coil, telecoils are parts of a hearing aid designed to be used in tandem with hearing loops, or electromagnetic transmitters that send clear sound directly into a hearing aid. When used together, telecoils can enhance your listening experience in noisy public spaces. These induction loops work in spaces like theaters or lecture halls to make conversation easier to hear. In most cases, these hearing aid parts can be activated with a simple push of a button.

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