Choosing a hearing aid can be a daunting experience for many, given the variety of choices on the market today. Long gone are the days of the one style fits all approach, where cumbersome behind the ear units were the only choices available, no matter the type of hearing loss experienced.
Now, thanks to significant advances in technology, people who have experienced mild to moderate hearing loss can choose from a variety of hearing aids depending on the extent of their loss, their levels of comfort, and their personal preferences.
When discussing options with your hearing professional, prioritize your needs over wants. Once those are addressed then personal preference can come into play. For example, if you have severe hearing loss, your need for a powerful hearing aid may quickly narrow the choices available to you. Once those choices are identified, you can make your selection based on preferences such as comfort and appearance.
Two major categories of hearing aids are available: standard and custom. Which type of hearing aid you choose may depend largely on budget and visibility preferences. No matter which you choose, each device will consist of a microphone to pick up sound, an amplifier to make the sound greater, and a receiver to send the signal to your inner ear.
Standard Hearing Aids
Standard hearing aids include BTEs (Behind The Ear), and RICs (Receiver In Canal).
With BTEs, the microphone, amplifier, and receiver are all contained within the unit behind the ear, which is connected to a mold inside the ear by a tube. BTE’s are the largest, and typically, the most powerful of all the hearing aid devices available.
RICs, another type of standard hearing aid, is similar to a BTE. The difference between the two, however, is the placement of the receiver, which is inside the canal for the RIC. The benefit of this type of device over a BTE is its size, being slightly smaller. Also, no custom fitting is needed for the mold that sits inside the canal, unlike the BTE.
Custom Hearing Aids
Custom hearing aids are those in which all components fit inside of the ear. Some of these custom hearing aids are barely visible at all. Because they are smaller, they are more discreet. But they also have smaller batteries and may not be appropriate choices for more severe hearing loss. Custom hearing aids include ITE (In The Ear), ITC (In The Canal), CIC (Completely In Canal), and IIC (Invisible In Canal).
The ITE is the biggest of the custom hearing aids. It is custom molded to sit firmly within the outer ear. Next smallest is the ITC, which sits partially in the ear canal, reducing the visible size of the hearing aid. CIC hearing aids sit completely in the ear canal so that only a small portion is actually visible exteriorly. An IIC is not visible at all from the outside, as it sits further inside the canal. All custom hearing aids come in a variety of shades to best match your natural skin tone.
Educating yourself about the available options will also give you time to consider what’s most important to you when you talk to your hearing professional. To discuss options with a hearing health professional, contact our office today!