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Your Guide To Different Styles Of Hearing Aids

Hearing technology has changed in the past few decades, and the devices that are available to the hearing impaired have vastly improved. There is more selection based around the needs of the patient. Both behind and inside the ear varieties exist, and different features mean a more customized experience that takes special circumstances into account.

The Different Hearing Aid Types

In the past hearing aids came in one form. They were bulky and uncomfortable, came in few sizes, and did not work for everyone. Now, they are much more varied, designed to fit the needs of each individual user. Because the inner mechanisms are smaller, they are more comfortable now, as well.

Some things to consider when deciding on what hearing aid is best for you:

  • How severe your hearing impairment has become
  • Power and battery requirements
  • Your ability to manually insert and remove the hearing aid, and the visual capabilities
  • How much money you have to spend
  • Sensitive skin and potential irritation caused by materials
  • Any special considerations, such as medical problems that could impact the use of the hearing aid

Internal Hearing Aids

In The Canal (ITC) – If your hearing impairment is in the less to moderately severe category, you may be right for an ITC. This is a larger device that sites in the lower area of the canal, and amplifies sound. It it bigger than most styles, which might make it uncomfortable for users with smaller ears. However, it has a longer battery life, which makes it a good choice for those who don’t wish to replace the batteries as often.

Half Shell – A half shell is another large device that fits a better battery, and allows for more customized options due to the size. It is called a half shell because it fits within half of the canal. It is easier to take out than most hearing aids, making it a good device for those that have trouble manually removing their hearing aid.

Full Shell – A full shell is the largest of all internal hearing aids. It fits in the entire canal, sitting within the bowl itself. Because its size allows for personalized features it is a good option for people with anything from slight to extreme hearing impairment.

Completely In The Canal (CIC) – For those who want to avoid the look of a hearing aid, this can be the right choice. It is a very small, customizable device that nestles inside of the ear canal, nearly deep enough to rest against the eardrum. A string allows the patient to remove it when needed, but it can be difficult to take out if the patient has limited mobility in their fingers.

Invisible In The Canal (IIC) – Similar to a CIC, an IIC is an even smaller device that goes deeper into the canal. It works well for people with severe hearing loss, as it amplifies sound using the acoustics available in the canal itself. This adds an additional element of amplification without using more power.

Behind The Ear Hearing Aids

Mini Behind The Ear Aid with Tubes – This kind of hearing aid is an interesting device that sits at the back of the ear and reverberates sounds through the canal using slender tubes. A tip enters into the canal itself by wrapping around the ear, and helping to transmit the sound more openly. This is perfect for people who suffer from the type of hearing impairment where sound is more likely to be occluded.

Receiver In The Ear (RITE) – If the patient has a more severe form of hearing impairment, they may prefer the RITE style of device. Instead of sitting on the back of the ear, it rests inside of the canal itself, with a speaker beside the eardrum. It transmits the sound directly against it, to better reverberate within the inner chambers.

Behind The Ear With Customized Molding – Meant for people with any level of hearing impairment, this is most often prescribed for those who have intense hearing loss that requires much higher rates of intervention. The longer device rests at the back of the ear with a tube that rests in the canal and transmits sound in a way similar to the mini-BTE. It can be molded to the shell of the ear itself for a custom fit that makes it more effective and less obvious when worn.

The Impressive Hearing Aid Tech of Today

Modern hearing aids are a far cry from what they once were. Different features and capabilities exist based on levels and needs, and customization is common. The price will depend on these features, the size, the brand, and the severity of hearing loss. Patients can find a hearing aid that specifically caters to their unique circumstances easily. An evaluation can help you determine which is right for you.

On a basic level, more standard hearing aids have to be adjusted manually when the environment warrants it. For example, the noise pollution in an area may be high, and so the user will have to turn down the volume of the hearing device to prevent damage, or turn it up to hear specific sounds like speech over the din. More expensive, high quality hearing aids monitor the environment and current sounds and make adjustments where needed automatically.

Current features available in modern hearing aids include:

  • Noise reduction of background noise that can impact the user’s ability to hear more specific sounds, like music or speech.
  • Microphones that pick up sound in each direction, so patients can tell whether sound is in front of behind them.
  • Feedback reduction, eliminating high pitched whistling or static that occurs when users encounter electronics that clash with their device.
  • Wind reduction, lessening the rush of wind that can be deafening in situations like riding with car windows down, or being outside during a storm.
  • Automatic data logs that keep track of user preferences and adjusts when situations require it.
  • Telecoil, which works with telephones to allow the wearer to speak on the phone without feedback causing static or high pitched frequencies to disrupt the call.
  • Bluetooth connections, which syncs the hearing device with compatible devices like televisions, computers, and smartphones.