Hearing Aid Styles

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There are many available hearing aid styles to suit your hearing loss, style, and lifestyle needs. Over time, hearing instruments have evolved from the earliest non-electric ear trumpet styles often made of animal horns or other materials to today's modern digital technology. Some hearing aids today are so small they are practically invisible. Please use this guide to walk you through the hearing aids that have been available in the past, and what is present today!

The earliest forms of hearing aids were merely funnel-shaped “trumpets” guiding the sound into the ear. While this “funneling” of sound to the ear may have been helpful to those with milder losses, for the most part, many were not likely helped by these “aids”. The 1900s introduced the analog electronic hearing aid. For the greater part, these aids were merely amplifiers, increasing the volume of all sounds in the environment fairly equally. Beginning as very large hand held and body worn aids, over time advances were made in size reduction and in programmable features. The 1990s brought about the introduction of completely digital hearing instruments. With digital processing, sound could be sorted out into smaller bits of information, allowing for easy manipulation. This greater capability to control the output of the sound allowed for very specific hearing customization. While analog aids are still available, they are slowly being phased out for more advanced digital products.

There are Five main types of hearing aids available in today's market:

1. Receiver In The Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

• RIC's consist of a case which houses the majority of the working parts of the hearing aid and a speaker/dome component.

• On the RIC the case has a small speaker wire attached which travels down the front of the pinna and into the ear canal.

• They are available in all the technology levels, making the RIC hearing aid a popular choice.

• RICs can be used for mild to profound hearing loss.

2. Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

• Worn over the top of the ear, connected to tubing that runs along the front of the ear, attaching to a custom ear mold or dome tip in the ear canal

• May be in-stock since the main portion does not have to be custom made

• Range in size from large to small and nearly invisible

• Considered one of the most appropriate styles for young children

• Fits a variety of losses from mild to profound

• Open-fit BTE

• A specific type of BTE that is connected by even thinner tubing or wire to a small dome or custom mold in the ear canal

• Does not occlude the ear canal as much as other hearing aids

• Minimizes the feeling of being plugged up

• Minimizes the loudness and distortion of the sound of your own voice when wearing aids

3. In-the-Ear (ITE)

• Custom fit to your ear

• Fits into the bowl of the ear with a receiver (speaker) extending into the ear canal

• Various sizes from filling the entire bowl of the ear to only half

• Typically easy to insert and remove

4. In-the-Canal (ITC)

• Custom fit to your ear

• Fits into the very bottom of the bowl of the ear with a receiver (speaker) extending into the ear canal

• Smallest style that can use more than one microphone at a time for better noise reduction

• Typically easy to insert and remove

• Best for those with less severe hearing losses who do not want a large hearing aid

5. Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC)

• Custom fit to your ear

• Completely housed in the ear canal

• May not have all of the capabilities of the other styles due to lack of room for placement

• Nearly invisible; very cosmetically appealing

• Best aid for natural telephone use

• Better for less severe hearing losses

• Difficult to insert and remove for those with dexterity issues

• May require more frequent repairs due to moisture and wax build up because of deep ear placement

Ask your hearing healthcare professional what hearing aid style is best for you today!

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