Purchasing your first hearing aid can be a challenge. There are many different price points, features, brands, and models available on the marketplace. The right hearing aid for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your type of hearing loss, the severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your budget.
To help you make a more informed decision, you’ll find below details about the most common types of hearing aids on the market.
BTE hearing aids are contained within small plastic cases, which sit behind the wearer’s ears. These cases are connected to an earmold through the use of clear tubing.
Though they may be more noticeable, BTE hearing aids offer the best performance for maximum amplification, and thus, should be considered if you have significant hearing loss.
Although this type of hearing aid also sits behind the ear in a small case, it uses open-fit technology in order to avoid plugging the ear with significant material. The ear canal remains more open to sound; sounds arrive to the eardrum both from the hearing instrument as well as the open ear which helps sound be more natural.
The benefit of this type of device is that only the frequencies where you have hearing loss are amplified. Other sounds you hear normally travel to the ear canal without amplification, allowing these sounds to be more comfortable and natural. These types of devices are better for milder to moderate degrees of hearing loss.
Though this type of hearing aid is similar to BTE devices, there is one specific difference: the hearing aid’s speaker is placed inside of the ear canal, rather than outside of it. The BTE’s acoustic tube connection is replaced by a thin electrical wire.
The advantages here are both cosmetic and acoustic. Wearers tend to prefer the appearance of the wire rather than the tubing. Most significantly, however, these types of hearing aids are ideal for patients with high-frequency hearing loss as they offer the most natural sound quality for this type of hearing loss. These devices can fit a range of hearing loss from mild to severe depending upon several variables.
In-the-Canal (ITC), Invisible-In-Canal (ILC), and Completely-In-the-Canal (CIC)
These hearing aids are the smallest of all types of hearing aids. They fit either completely or partially in the ear canal. They’re easy to insert and use, though they tend to be more delicate and sensitive to ear wax. The benefits of this type of hearing aid include its ability to be easily concealed in the ear. These devices are custom-molded for a perfect fit. The user can experience more occlusion (a perception of feeling plugged) or a feeling of fullness in the ear canal. They may also experience more repairs since the components are exposed to more oil, ear wax, and moisture because they sit within the ear canal.
It is a suitable option for adults who have moderate to moderately-severe hearing loss.
The in-the-ear hearing aid fits within the outer area of the ear canal. It’s typically larger than the in-the-canal hearing aid, which allows it to be more easily handled. Due to its larger size, it may also include features that aren’t available in smaller devices, such as better battery life and on-board adjustments such as volume control. Adults with mild to severe hearing loss can consider this option. It has similar pros and cons to the In-the-canal (ITC) devices.
The extended-wear hearing aid is meant to be worn at all times, for several months at a time. They’re worn while you sleep, eat, talk on the phone, shower, etc. They’re purchased on a subscription basis, and approximately every 90-120 days, your audiologist replaces them. The benefits of extended-wear devices include the elimination of the need to perform daily hearing aid maintenance and the need to regularly change batteries.
Those with mild to moderate hearing loss can be good candidates for these devices, particularly if they live active lifestyles. There are several candidacy requirements for these devices including ear canal size, level of hearing loss, ear canal conditions, and overall health.
Request an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist at Associated Audiologists to get the help you need selecting the right type of hearing aid for your needs. Getting a comprehensive hearing evaluation and professional consultation can help you better understand your hearing requirements and the type of hearing aid that will suit you best.