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Are All Hearing Aids the Same?

Types of hearing aids styles in different colors

All hearing aids serve the same purpose: to clarify and enhance audio. But that doesn’t mean they’re all the same.

Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles to suit the different causes and degrees of hearing loss. When you understand the advantages of each type, you can better decide which is right for you.

Two Types of Hearing Aids

Analog hearing aids: This type of hearing device uses a microphone to pick up sound waves and convert them into electrical signals. Analog hearing aids have simple controls that affect the volume. Most modern hearing aids aren’t analog, but you can still find personal sound amplification devices that use analog.

Digital hearing aids: Like analog devices, digital hearing aids have a microphone, amplifier and receiver but they’re more technologically advanced. They convert sound waves into numerical code and function like a computer to amplify audio. Digital hearing devices can detect the direction of sound and automatically adapt to new listening environments.

Hearing Aid Styles

Behind-the-ear (BTE): This hearing aid style is suitable for treating mild to profound hearing loss in children and adults. The components sit behind the ear where sounds are clarified and amplified. The audio is sent through tubing to an ear mold in the shell of the ear. BTE hearing aids are easy to place and feature a variety of adjustable settings.

In-the-ear (ITE): This hearing aid is situated in the lower portion of the outer ear. ITE hearing aids are available in full-shell and half-shell models and are nearly invisible. They’re ideal for moderate to severe hearing loss.

In-the-canal (ITC): These devices fit into the ear canal. ITC hearing aids are custom-made to the user’s ear measurements to provide optimal sound enhancement. ITC hearing aids are appropriate for moderate to severe hearing loss.

Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) and Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC): These hearing aids are suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss. Their small sizes allow them to fit deeply in your ear canal, making them extremely discreet. CIC and IIC hearing aids aren’t for everyone due to size and programming limitations.

Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC): The digital component rests behind the ear and is connected via a thin wire to a dome in the ear canal. Sound can also travel naturally into the ear canal, reducing the plugged sensation a user may experience while wearing the devices. RIC hearing aids are suitable for mild to severe hearing loss.

Types of Hearing Aid Technology

Modern hearing aid technology allows you to customize your device. Most devices offer noise reduction and speech enhancement features to help you understand speakers in any soundscape.

Additional hearing aid technology includes:

Today’s hearing aids can also convert to telecoil technology, allowing users to connect to public hearing loops. Those systems enhance audio in places like airports, theaters and museums.

How to Choose the Right Hearing Aid

It’s important to consult an audiologist when looking for hearing aids. They can provide you with valuable insight before selecting hearing devices.

Here are some other factors to consider:

Degree of hearing loss: Some hearing aids are better equipped to address profound hearing loss and deafness. Larger models offer more programming to address extensive hearing loss. Conversely, smaller ITC and CIC devices may be a good solution if you experience milder symptoms.

Cost: Advanced programming and design can increase the price of hearing aids. Your audiologist can work with you to discuss financing options to ensure that you get the best devices for your hearing loss.

Lifestyle: Whether you’re laid back or constantly on the go, your lifestyle will influence your hearing aid choice. You might want a smaller, more compact hearing aid if you’re an active individual.

Features: You have the option of investing in a device that’s packed with customizable programs and settings or you can opt for a simpler style that doesn’t require a lot of adjustments.

Dexterity: If you have trouble handling small items, ITC and CIC devices may not be for you. BTE devices have bigger buttons that make it easier to place and modify your hearing aids.

Hearing Aids in Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota

Hearing Associates is committed to providing you with the information you need to navigate your hearing health. We offer a wide variety of hearing aid brands and will help you find the right devices to optimize your hearing. Call 800-760-2032 or schedule your appointment online.