Hearing Aid Styles and More

Enjoy better hearing no matter what your age may be

Hearing aids will not restore your normal hearing. With practice, however, a hearing aid for profound hearing loss or moderate hearing loss will increase your awareness of sounds and their sources. You will want to wear your hearing aid regularly, so select one that is convenient and easy for you to use.

Other features to consider when you rate hearing aids include parts or services covered by the warranty, estimated schedule and costs for maintenance and repair, options and upgrade opportunities, and the hearing aid company’s reputation for quality and customer service.

Hearing Aid Styles

The size, placement on or inside the ear, and the degree to which a hearing aid amplifies sound are all used to determine the best solution to your hearing problem. Let’s look at each style, and then we’ll talk about how they work.

Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids consist of a hard plastic case worn behind the ear and connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The electronic parts are held in the case behind the ear. Sound travels from the hearing aid through the earmold and into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss.

A new kind of BTE aid is an open-fit hearing aid. Small, open-fit aids fit behind the ear completely, with only a narrow tube inserted into the ear canal, enabling the canal to remain open. For this reason, open-fit hearing aids may be a good choice for people who experience a buildup of earwax, since this type of aid is less likely to be damaged by such substances. In addition, some people may prefer the open-fit hearing aid because their perception of their voice does not sound plugged up.

In-the-Ear Hearing Aids

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely inside the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. The case holding the electronic components is made of hard plastic. Some ITE aids may have certain added features installed, such as a telecoil.

Telecoil Hearing Aids

A telecoil is a small magnetic coil that allows users to receive sound through the circuitry of the hearing aid, rather than through its microphone. This makes it easier to hear conversations over the telephone. A telecoil also helps people hear in public facilities that have installed special sound systems, called induction loop systems. Induction loop systems can be found in many churches, schools, airports, and auditoriums. ITE aids usually are not worn by young children because the casings need to be replaced often as the ear grows.

Canal Hearing Aids

At Alamo ENT Associates, we understand that one size does NOT fit all when it comes to assisted listening devices. Our hearing care professionals are ready with hearing devices for mild hearing loss, moderate hearing loss, and even severe hearing loss…and one of them will be perfect for you.

As the name suggests, canal aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two styles. The in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid is made to fit the size and shape of a person’s ear canal. A completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid is nearly hidden in the ear canal. Both types are used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC)

All RIC solutions have their electronics, battery and microphone inside a casing worn behind the ear. An ultra thin, sculpted wire carries the amplified sound to a speaker that fits in the ear canal. Receiver-in-the-Canal technology works well for hearing losses ranging from mild to severe.

Because they are small, canal aids may be difficult for a person to adjust and remove. In addition, canal aids have less space available for batteries and additional devices, such as a telecoil. They usually are not recommended for young children or for people with severe to profound hearing loss because their reduced size limits their power and volume.

How Hearing Aids Work

Hearing aids work differently depending on the electronics used. The two main types of electronics recommended by hearing care professionals for their patients are:

  • Analog aids convert sound waves into electrical signals, which are amplified. Analog/adjustable hearing aids are custom built to meet the needs of each user. The aid is programmed by the manufacturer according to the specifications recommended by your hearing care professional. Analog/programmable hearing aids have more than one program or setting.
  • A hearing care professional can program the aid using a computer, and the user can change the program for different listening environments from a small, quiet room to a crowded restaurant to large, open areas, such as a theater or stadium. Analog/programmable circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids. Analog aids usually are less expensive than digital aids.
  • Digital aids convert sound waves into numerical codes, similar to the binary code of a computer, before amplifying them. Because the code also includes information about a sound’s pitch or loudness, the aid can be specially programmed to amplify some frequencies more than others.
  • Digital circuitry gives a hearing care professional more flexibility in adjusting the aid to a user’s needs and to certain listening environments. These aids also can be programmed to focus on sounds coming from a specific direction. Digital circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids.

The Best Hearing Aids for YOU & Personalized Support to Ensure Your Satisfaction

The hearing aids that will work best for you depends on the situations you are struggling to understand in, as well as the kind and severity of your hearing loss. If you have a hearing loss in both of your ears, two hearing aids are generally recommended because two aids provide a more natural signal to the brain.

Hearing in both ears also will help you understand speech and locate where the sound is coming from.

Your hearing care professional will make the best recommendation for you and select a hearing aid or other assistive listening device that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Price is also a key consideration because hearing aids range from hundreds to several thousands of dollars. Similar to other equipment purchases, style and features affect cost.

What Questions Should I Ask Before Buying a Hearing Aid?

Now that you know about the different types of hearing aids, you may have some other questions. Let’s see if the experienced hearing care professionals at Alamo ENT Associates can’t answer them now…

Before you buy a hearing aid, ask your hearing care professional these important questions:

  • What features would be most useful to me?
  • What is the total cost of the hearing aid? Do the benefits of newer technologies outweigh the higher costs?
  • What fees are nonrefundable if the aids are returned after the trial period?
  • How long is the warranty? Can it be extended? Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs?
  • Can the hearing care professional make adjustments and provide servicing and minor repairs? Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed?
  • What instruction does the hearing care professional Provide?
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