Different Styles of Hearing Aids
Your hearing test results are back and show some hearing loss. It’s a challenging diagnosis, but one with options. There are many different styles of hearing aids available, and each has benefits. How do you choose the one is right for you? Several factors are involved. Here is a look at the different styles and reasons why one type may be better for you than another.
Types of hearing aids
Hearing aids come in various shapes and sizes. The smallest are invisible-in-canal (IIC) and completely-in-canal (CIC) devices. Next are in-the-canal (ITC), in-the-ear (ITE) and behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. As the names imply, each of these styles sits differently in your ear. IIC hearing aids are very small and use a special instrument for insertion and removal. ITC hearing aids are visible, but cover just the opening of your ear canal. ITE units are a bit larger and fit inside the indentation in your outer ear. The location of BTE hearing aids is obvious. A small tube fits over the top of the ear and different earpieces either sit in the ear canal or have an open fit.
Your choice in hearing aids may be reduced due to several factors. For example, the shape of your outer ear or ear canal may not work with a certain style. If your ear canal is narrow or has a particular shape, an IIC device probably is not an option. It is also ruled out if you produce a lot of earwax or your ears drain due to medical conditions. Someone with dexterity problems may have issues changing the very small batteries. People with misshapen outer ears may have to opt for a style other than behind the ear. ITE models depend upon the shape of your outer ear near your ear canal
Hearing test results
Depending upon your audiogram results, certain styles of hearing aids will work better than others. If some of your hearing loss falls within higher frequencies, for example, an ITE unit might make things sound more muffled. More severe hearing loss is served best by BTE hearing aids. Some hearing loss requires directional or multiple microphones, which also dictates style.
Other device features
Almost all styles of hearing aids can add on features to improve your quality of life. Some can tamp down background noise, others allow for the perception of hearing in both ears even if you have profound loss in one ear. Some hearing aid features include Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to cell phones, digital music players, and TV. Others are waterproof for people who are into sports. Some units now have rechargeable batteries.
It’s a little overwhelming to look at the different styles of hearing aids available. But in consultation with your audiologist, you will find the styles and features that work best to improve your hearing.