How Hearing Aids Work

Hearing aids work by boosting the intensity ("loudness") level of sounds at different frequencies ("pitches"). Higher-frequency sounds, such as "t," "p" and "s," have less energy and need a greater loudness boost to be heard than low frequency sounds, such as "a," "oh" and "ah". Hearing aids are programmed to fit the needs of individual hearing patterns, such as boosting intensity level for high frequency sounds that a person may not hear at all and less for low frequency sounds that a person may hear better.


Digital/Programmable hearing aids are the most commonly used aids among children and adults. The audiologist uses a computer to program the hearing aid and can adjust the sound quality and response time on an individual basis. Digital hearing aids use a computer chip and, as a result, offer the most flexibility to audiologists in making adjustments. Digital hearing aids also offer a number of settings that allow the user to manipulate the amplification of incoming sound in specific frequencies where it's difficult to hear.