Long gone are the days when the loss of hearing was viewed as a life sentence. With the rapid development of technological advances, a lost sense of hearing can be rectified by the use of a hearing aid device. Such gadgets certainly cannot restore normal hearing. However, they have built-in technology to amplify the soft sounds within your environment to help improve your hearing. The amplifier in the hearing aid analyzes and adjusts sounds depending on the extent of your hearing loss. By doing so, you are able to clearly hear sounds that you would have had trouble hearing earlier.
With over 10 million Americans using hearing aids, the demand for these devices can only go up but the available options are also up to the task.
Immediately after you detect a loss of hearing to whatever degree, you should visit an audiologist as soon as possible for a pediatric hearing test. The test results are what usually determine the kind of hearing aid you require. However, you still have the freedom to make other aesthetic choices such as color and design.
You may also be worried about how the acquired hearing device is going to look on you. Well, the good news is that there is a wide variety of hearing aid styles to choose from depending on the level of your hearing loss, lifestyle needs, budget, and aesthetic preferences.
Common Types of Hearing Aids
- Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) – This is a small hearing aid that fits inside the ear canal. In adults, it can improve mild to moderate hearing loss. Of all the hearing aid styles, a CIC is the smallest type hence is also the least visible. However, it also has a much smaller battery and therefore has a shorter life. It also lacks features that larger hearing aid styles have such as a directional microphone or volume controls. Moreover, its speakers can easily be clogged by earwax.
- In-the-canal (ITC) – This is a custom-molded hearing device that fits in the ear canal partly. Just like the CIC, this one too improves mild to moderate loss of hearing. It is also not as visible in the ear compared to larger hearing aid devices. However, it contains features that cannot fit into the smaller CIC. Its functionality can be slowed by the clogging of its speakers by earwax.
- In-the-ear (ITE) – This device is custom-made in two major styles; one that fills the area of the outer ear that is bowl-shaped, and one that only fills the lower part. It is advanced enough to improve mild to severe hearing impairment. It is also much easier to handle and includes additional features like volume control. Compared to the smaller hearing aid styles, it is more visible in the ear and can pick up more sound.
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) – This hearing aid rests at the back of the ear and hooks over its top. It is fitted with a custom earpiece known as an earmold that connects it to the ear canal. Its functionality is diverse in that it can be used for almost any type of hearing loss, is suitable for people of all ages, and has a variety of aesthetic features representing different hearing aid styles. Traditionally, it is the largest hearing aid type although thanks to technology it now has mini-designs.
- Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) and Receiver-in-canal (RIC) – Both are hearing aid styles that are designed with their speakers in the ear or canal. The device and its speakers are connected by a tiny wire. It is less visible from the back of the ear but its speakers can also be clogged by earwax.
- Open-fit – This hearing aid device is basically a BTE that has been modified with a thin tube. The design allows the ear canal to remain open. As such, the high-frequency sounds are amplified through the thin tube while the low-frequency sounds naturally penetrate the ear. One quality that makes this device more superior than the others is the fact that it is not susceptible to clogging of earwax thus making voices sound better. However, it is only helpful to people with a hearing loss that is either mild or moderate.