How do hearing aids work?

In the UK, 12 million adults have hearing loss greater than 25 decibels. That’s one in five adults who can’t hear leaves rustling in the wind, a mosquito buzzing or even people breathing. If you’re experiencing hearing loss of any kind, you can get support from an audiologist. Your audiologist may recommend hearing aids – here’s all you need to know about how these devices work.

Hearing aids: what are they?

Hearing aids are small electronic devices that fit in or around the ear. They can improve hearing in those experiencing hearing loss.

How do they work?

Hearing aids are designed to compensate for hearing loss by amplifying sound waves and making them louder. This allows the damaged hair cells to receive stronger signals, which can improve hearing. They can help you hear more clearly and participate more fully in everyday activities. 

In addition, they can also help to reduce the strain on the ears and prevent further hearing loss. For many people, hearing aids are an essential part of managing hearing loss and maintaining a good quality of life.

What parts make up a hearing aid?

Hearing aids have three main parts: a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. Firstly, the microphone picks up sounds and converts them into electrical signals. 

The amplifier then makes the signals louder. Finally, the speaker converts the electrical signals back into sound waves and sends them into the person’s ear. 

You can wear hearing aids in different ways, and some can be held in place by a custom-made earmould that fits snugly in your ear canal. 

The different types and styles of hearing aids

There are four main varieties of hearing aid:

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

These hearing aids sit behind the ear, where all the components are contained. A clear tube connects from the ear mould to behind the ear, allowing sounds to be amplified for the wearer.

BTE hearing aids are sturdy and easy to clean. They’re also a good option for children, as you can replace the silicone ear moulds (also called domes) can be replaced as the child grows. 

Audiologist fitting a behind the ear hearing aid

In-the-canal (ITC)

These hearing aids sit in the ear canal. They are very small and usually recommended for those with moderate hearing loss. 

They are discrete, but some people find them harder to use because they are so small and fiddly. 

In-the-ear (ITE)

A small shell contains the components for this hearing aid, which fills in the outer part of the ear. 

This hearing aid can be installed with a telecoil, which allows the patient to receive sound through the hearing aid’s circuit rather than the microphone, decreasing the chances of feedback.

Receiver-in-canal (RIC)

Perhaps the most discrete of all, RIC hearing aids sit inside the ear canal – they are pretty much unnoticeable. 

These aids can be more prone to ear wax build-up and moisture because of their size, but they are also less prone to feedback issues. 

With modern technology, hearing aids have become increasingly sophisticated and effective. In some cases, you can program them to filter out background noise and make it easier to hear speech.

Cochlear implants

Hearing aids can also be used with other devices to improve hearing. One example is a cochlear implant. An audiologist will surgically implant this device under the skin behind the ear. 

A cochlear implant picks up sound waves and converts them into electrical signals that travel to the brain. They can help people with severe hearing loss or complete deafness.

Hearing aid options for tinnitus

If you experience tinnitus (a buzzing sound inside your ears), you could benefit from a hearing aid. While you can’t cure tinnitus, a hearing aid can reduce its effects by amplifying external noise. This means you can focus on sounds around you, rather than the tinnitus.

Features of a hearing aid

There are a variety of hearing aids available on the market, each with its own set of features. 

While some aim to be as small and unobtrusive as possible, others feature wireless connectivity and advanced noise-cancelling capabilities. 

Some of the most common features include:

  • Volume control: This allows you to adjust the volume of the hearing aid to their needs. 
  • Directional microphones: These help to focus on sound coming from a particular direction, making it easier to hear in noisy environments. 
  • Noise reduction: This feature helps to reduce background noise, making it easier to focus on conversation. 
  • Bluetooth connectivity: This allows you to connect your hearing aid to other devices, such as phones and laptops. 
  • Rechargeable batteries: Many hearing aids now come with rechargeable batteries, which can be convenient for those who use their aids on a daily basis. 

Hearing aids can greatly improve the quality of life for those with hearing loss. By understanding the different features available, you can choose the hearing aid that best suits your needs.

Find local hearing aid providers

Looking for hearing aids from a provider near you? Get a great deal with Spotdif. Explore our health deals and start your journey to a better quality of life.


Thomas Kupai is a Specialist in Home Services for Spotdif. He helps customers find the best deal on home services.

Tom is an inventive problem solver and has a knack for finding creative solutions to difficult problems. He loves his work at Spotdif, where he helps customers find the best deal on home services. Tom takes great pride in his work and always puts the needs of others first.

He is a creative thinker who enjoys coming up with new ways to save people money. He takes pride in his work and loves helping others find what they need at a price they can afford. When he’s not working, Thomas enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He is an avid reader and loves learning new things.


Thomas Kupai

Specialist in Home Services

Fact Checked

Our Feedback

Your SpotDif account