Hearing aids can dramatically improve your ability to receive and interpret sound, helping you regain control over aspects of your life that hearing loss hindered—particularly in communicating with the people around you. You also have a lot of options in hearing aid styles today, and our audiologists will work with you during fittings to select the hearing aids that will best fit your needs.
How Do Hearing Aids Work?
There are two basic types of sound delivery systems in today’s hearing aids:
- Analog—They gather sound waves, convert them into electrical signals and amplify them. They are custom manufactured for each patient based on your audiologist’s recommendations after your hearing tests and diagnosis. The audiologist uses computer software to further configure them so that you can adjust them for different sound environments (restaurants, auditoriums, libraries, etc.)
- Digital—More expensive than analog, but highly configurable to a very granular level, digital hearing aids turn sound waves into numerical codes so that specific frequencies can be programmed to stand out more than others.
Factors to Consider When Selecting Hearing Aids
Our audiologists will take into account your needs, lifestyle, comfort and sound environment during fittings for your hearing aids. Because we have access to all brands and styles of hearing aids, we can help you understand all the choices you have in regards to:
- Hearing aid features
- Size and placement within and/or without the ear
- Amplification levels and configuration
- Compare hearing aid manufacturers’ reputations
- Maintenance and cleaning schedules
- Parts, services and repair options
This may seem like a lot to think about, but our highly-trained team of audiologists can help you every step of the way.
Different Hearing Aid Styles
Here we will discuss some of the different hearing aid styles with regard to how they fit in or around the ear:
Canal Hearing Aids: CIC & ITC
CIC stands for “completely-in-the-canal” hearing aids, while ITC stands simply for “in-the-canal” hearing aids. Both are custom made for the wearer; the difference is simply that the CIC hearing aids are the smallest and least noticeable as they are almost entirely concealed within the ear canal. ITC hearing aids are just slightly bigger and more visible, but still mostly housed inside the ear canal.
CIC and ITC hearing aids are recommended for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, but not for children or people with severe hearing loss; their small size means they are not as powerful, can be difficult to adjust, remove and insert. They come with a clear nylon string for help with removal and insertion, and they use #10 hearing aid batteries.
In-the-Ear Hearing Aids (ITE)
Going up in size from the canal hearing aids, In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids are larger and fit into the bowl-shaped area that leads into the canal. They are also custom-made, and because they are bigger, they are easier to use. They use #13 or #312 size hearing aid batteries, and are a good option for people with mild all the way to severe hearing loss.
Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids (BTE)
There are three general types of Behind-the-Ear hearing aids—conventional, open fit, and receiver-in-the-canal (RIC). Each type houses battery, microphone and electronics in a plastic case hooked behind the ear. They generally use #675 or #13 batteries, so their volume and power are strong, and they are easy to configure and maintain. People of all ages, with hearing loss ranging from mild to profound, can use them successfully:
- Conventional BTE hearing aids—The microphone in back collects sounds and sends them to a plastic ear mold situated inside of the outer ear. They are easy to adapt to several different types of hearing assistive devices, so a wide variety of people can use them.
- Open Fit—A small, narrow tube delivers sound into the ear canal, which leaves the ear canal mostly open. Open fit enables better cleaning of the ear for people with consistent earwax build up, and they’re less noticeable.
- RIC—Similar to the open fit; but a very thin receiver wire conveys amplified sounds to a speaker situated inside the canal.
The Open Fit and RIC hearing aids deliver great sound amplification and are easy to adjust and configure while also being cosmetically discrete.
Telecoil Options in Hearing Aids
Many styles of hearing aids come with telecoils—tiny magnetic coils of wire that sense magnetic impulses and translate them into sound for the wearer, instead of using the microphone. This can be especially helpful for telephone conversations, watching TV, and in buildings where induction loop sound systems have been installed (schools, churches, airports, theaters, etc.)
Set Up an Appointment
Our audiologists can help you find the hearing aids that are the right style just for you! Call us today at 888-638-5095 to set up an appointment at the location nearest you.