6 Types of Hearing Aids to Choose FromPublished On: May 22, 2019
6 Types of Hearing Aids to Choose From
We’re all born with 16,000 hair cells inside our inner ears.
Over time, however, they can die; this is often due to prolonged exposure to loud noises. As it is, we’re unable to regenerate these cells once they’re gone. This leads to hearing loss.
There are also those who are born with hearing impairments. According to the NIDCD, 2-3 babies will be born with some degree of hearing loss for every 1,000 births.
Fortunately, it is possible to restore hearing in some cases. How? With hearing aids.
These medical devices help to restore hearing by amplifying sound. A common treatment for hearing loss, they either go in or on the ear. Some even require surgery.
Yes, that’s right—there are many hearing aids to choose from. Want to know how they’re different? If so, be sure to read on!
There Are Many Hearing Aids to Choose From: Which Is Right For You?
These sound-amplifying devices come in various sizes and shapes. Learn more about the different types below.
1. In-the-ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
ITE hearing aids are suitable for most types of hearing losses—from mild to severe.
How do they work? They use your ears’ natural acoustics to amplify sound.
Placed deep inside the ear canal, they are nearly invisible. This makes them ideal for those who want something discreet.
Interestingly enough, however, they are actually the largest out of all custom hearing aids. Because of this, they’re less likely to come loose when you’re chewing or talking.
While highly effective, they’re not recommended for young children.
Why? It’d be difficult to adjust their fit as their ears grow. On top of that, there are concerns of the hard plastic cracking in their ears, which can lead to injury.
They’re also not suitable for those with frequent ear infections or very small ear canals.
2. Behind-the-ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
BTE hearing aids are suitable for children and adults. Similar to ITE devices, they’re appropriate for almost any degree of hearing loss.
Fit-wise, they hook over the top of the ears. A small tube, which is held in place by a small tip, connects the device to a custom earpiece that delivers sound to your eardrum.
This allows them to amplify sound more so than other styles.
If poorly fitted, however, they can cause a whistling noise called feedback. This happens when amplified sounds produced by the device is picked up by the microphone.
In recent years, miniature sizes have come out, most of which are cosmetically discreet. Traditionally, however, BTE hearing aids have been on the larger side.
3. Bone Conduction Hearing Aids
Bone conduction amplification devices are unique in that they are able to bypass the middle and outer ear.
They do this by transferring sound directly to the cochlea.
These hearing aids consist of two parts—a titanium implant and an external sound processor. The latter picks up sound from the environment and transfers them to the embedded implant as vibrations.
There is a downside, however—they are more invasive than traditional hearing aids. They must be surgically implanted into the skull behind the ear.
Generally speaking, these fixtures are great for those with congenital conductive hearing loss, chronic ear infections, or single-sided deafness. They’re also ideal for those who are born with no ear canals.
4. Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
CIC devices are small and nearly invisible. Hidden from view, they fit the furthest down the ear canal; this makes them cosmetically appealing.
Suitable for multiple levels of hearing loss, they are the perfect option for those who want a discreet hearing aid solution.
Custom fitted to the inside of your ear, they are comfortable to wear all day long. In fact, you might even forget that you’re wearing them from time to time!
Due to their small size, however, they are not recommended for those with dexterity or vision issues.
5. Receiver-in-canal (RIC) Hearing Aids
RIC hearing aids feature an open fit design. In other words, they hide behind the ear.
Physically, they resemble BTE devices. They consist of a thin plastic tube that extends from the hearing aid and into the ear canal. This makes them more difficult to detect.
Easy to maneuver, they come in small, virtually invisible casings. However, they are susceptible to moisture, which can clog the speaker. Ear wax can also cause the speaker to malfunction.
Ideal for mild to severe hearing loss, they can be used by both adults and children.
6. Cochlear Implants
Cochlear implants are technically not hearing devices. However, they do have the same purpose—they’re meant to restore your hearing.
Similar to bone conduction hearing aids, they are surgically implanted under the skin. They are often reserved for those with severe to profound hearing loss.
Instead of amplifying sounds, they work by directly stimulating the auditory nerve. The sound processor in the device picks up sound signals and transmits them to the implanted receiver.
The receiver then sends the signals to the electrodes in the cochlea. These nerve impulses go on to stimulate the auditory nerve, which sends them to the brain.
The brain then interprets them as sound.
Approximately 38,000 of these devices have been implanted in children and 58,000 in adults in the United States.
Which Type of Hearing Aid is Right For You?
As you can see, there are several hearing aids to choose from. Some are discreet, while others are more visible.
At the end of the day, however, they all help to improve your hearing.
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