Hearing aids are one of the most important investments into your health care. Hearing aids are electronic devices that absorb, amplify, and process sound which provides ample support for people navigating hearing loss. Similar to most electronics today, these devices have experienced significant innovation. There is a wide range of hearing aid options, styles, and features that are designed to maximize user experience and hearing capacity. Knowing the differences, pros and cons, and functions of hearing aid types can help you make the most informed decision about the device that would work best for you!
Understanding How Hearing Aids Work
All hearing aids consist of basic parts that work together to process sound. This includes four basic components:
- Microphone: picks up the sound in the environment and converts the soundwaves into electrical signals.
- Amplifier: amplifies the electrical signals and in some hearing aid devices, adjusts these signals to the wearer’s specific preferences.
- Receiver: also known as the speaker, sends the signals to the inner ear.
The fourth part of all hearing aid types is the power supply which holds batteries.
Hearing Aid Types + Pros & Cons
There are various styles, types, and models of hearing aids which can be challenging to navigate. What is really helpful to know is that there are seven types that are the most common, this includes:
- In the Ear (ITE): worn in the outer portion of the ear and involves a custom-made shell.
- Pros: great volume control, easy to insert, simple to use with phone
- Cons: highly visible, can feel bulky
- Behind the Ear (BTE): worn behind or on top of the outer ear. A plastic tube carries sound to a custom ear piece that sits in the ear canal.
- Pros: its larger size makes it more durable, great for volume control, and directional microphones
- Cons: its large size means that it is more visible, using the phone can feel awkward
- Mini Behind the Ear (Mini BTE): similar to the BTE, this device involves a plastic tube that connects to an earbud that is worn inside the ear canal.
- Pros: the ear canal is left open which can feel more natural and not like your ear is plugged up
- Cons: more challenging to use with a phone
- Receiver in the Ear Canal (RIC): this style involves the receiver sitting in the ear canal and a wire connecting it to the microphone and amplifier sitting behind the ear.
- Pros: one of the most least visible devices, enhanced sound quality
- Cons: can also be challenging to use with a phone
- In the Canal (ITC): earmolds are taken to make the shell that sits in the ear canal opening.
- Pros: smaller than other types and so not as visible
- Cons: can be prone to feedback
- Completely in the Ear Canal (CIC): these types of hearing aids are designed to be placed in the ear canal.
- Pros: least noticeable type of hearing aid, simple to use with a phone, easy to identify source of sounds
- Cons: tends to be more expensive, feedback can be an issue, swapping batters can be challenging
- Invisible in the Canal (IIC): similar to other types of in the canal hearing aids but these sit the deepest in the ear canal.
- Pros: the smallest and least visible type of hearing aid, no feedback
- Cons: can require more work to change the batteries
Understanding the different types of hearing aids available to you is helpful. In addition to being aware of the ways in which hearing aid types differ, there are other factors that should inform your decision. This includes your budget, specific hearing needs, and lifestyle factors.
Some devices work more effectively for specific hearing needs which can work with you to identify and discuss. Additionally, we will ask about your lifestyle and other factors that go into determining the best device for you! You can thoroughly discuss your options, hearing needs, and preferences with our team of professionals who are equipped with the expertise to provide informed care!