Common Hearing Aid Styles
Your audiologist is here to help every step of the way through your hearing health journey. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with hearing loss or you’re looking to update and upgrade, helping you choose a hearing aid is one area that they can offer a lot of expertise. Here, we’re going to look at the most common types of hearing aids, what advantages they offer, and who they might be best for.
Types of hearing aids
In general, there are three main categories of hearings aids. In-the-ear (ITE) devices are usually custom-fit devices worn in the outer ear bowl. These styles of hearing aids are medium-sized and can offer a decent amount of power and privacy. In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are also worn in the ear but can be located in a range of positions in the canal. These are the smallest styles of hearing aids. Behind-the-ear (BTE) devices, on the other hand, sit behind the ear and use tubing connected to a microphone and speaker to receive and transmit sound, instead. However, there are different types in each of these classifications, as well.
BTE with earmold
These BTE devices have earmolds with a longer shape that adheres to the curve of the outer ear. The longer shape also means that they tend to have more control and features, as well as battery life. Amongst their advantages is that they are built to fit a wide range of hearing loss, with devices appropriate from mild to profound hearing loss. Just like the RITE devices, they come in separate parts that can each be replaced as and when is needed. However, they are slightly more visible and tend to cause more occlusion, which is when low-frequency noises, like your own voice, feedback into the device.
Receiver in the ear (RITE)
RITE hearing aids are amongst the commonly worn hearing aids, also known as receiver in the ear or receiver in canal. The hearing aid is fit behind the ear, with an attached ear dome that’s inserted into the ear carrying the speaker inside connected to the microphone and shell by a thin wire. Amongst the advantages is that it offers above average sound quality, and it’s easier to repair because the individual pieces can be replaced if damaged, rather than having to replace the whole device. However, smaller RITE devices can be challenging to operate for those with manual dexterity issues.
Invisible in canal (IIC)
Amongst the smallest of all devices, IIC hearing aids are also the most discreet and are popular for that reason. Using a custom mold based on your ear, they’re placed deeply in the ear and retrieved used a small pull-out string connected to the shell. Besides the cosmetic appeal, they offer a superior sound quality, but, due to their small size, they rarely have additional manual controls and are most suited to those who have mild to moderate hearing loss.
In the canal
In the canal, hearing aids are slightly more visible than their IIC cousins, as they sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl. These, too, are made using custom molds of the ear to ensure that they fit as well as possible. The slightly larger size makes them more visible, but it also means that they have a longer battery life and are better suited to those with a wider range of hearing loss. Furthermore, they have the space to account for extra features such as directional microphones. However, given their size and placement in the ear, they need to be cleaned slightly more frequently as they are prone to ear wax and moisture buildup.
In the ear
Lastly, these in the ear devices are similar to ITC hearing aids but are usually slightly larger in size. This is also variable, thanks to both half-shell and full-shell varieties. The added size adds more room for extra features, as well as extra battery life. Furthermore, they may be preferred for those with manual dexterity issues since they are easier to put in and to pull out. However, they do suffer slightly more from occlusion, so they can demand a little more adjustment on the fly.
Which type of hearing aid best fits your needs?
The guide above can help steer you in the right direction but, when it comes to finding the perfect hearing aids, there is no alternative for the consultation and advice your audiologist can offer you. Whether you’re looking for the right device to meet your needs or you need any other kind of help with your hearing health, get in touch with Hearing Health Care. You can call us in Myrtle Beach at 843-497-6156 or in Conway at 843-488-2717.