As with all technological devices, hearing aids come in many shapes and sizes. The task of finding a good fit depends on your specific hearing needs and preferences. All hearing aids contain the same components: receiver (microphone), amplifier, speaker, battery, and program/volume control. Sound is received through the microphone, which is then amplified and then fed to your ear via the speaker. Hearing aids differ in the organization of these parts and how they are worn.
They also differ in their program specifications: some hearing aids are outfitted with T-coils, which allow people to receive magnetic transmission from loop systems, as well as telephone and Bluetooth capabilities. The two main kinds of hearing aids are behind the ear (BTE) and in the ear (ITE), with a few other specialized options such as in the canal (ITC) and completely in the canal (CITC). With many to choose from, we’ve put together an overview with options for you to consider.
Behind the Ear (BTE)
BTE hearing aids consist of two major components: a plastic casing that houses the electronic parts of the aid and drapes over the back of your ear, and a plastic tube that is fitted in your canal to deliver amplified sound. BTE hearing aids are versatile in the range that they accommodate, from mild to profound levels of hearing loss. Generally speaking, they are chosen for their discreet design and ease of operation, especially for individuals who suffer from arthritis. The program and volume control are located on the plastic casing which sits behind the ear, making them easier to access. For individuals who wear glasses, BTE hearing aids might be inconvenient due to their design.
The receiver in canal (RIC) hearing aid is a form of a BTE hearing aid. In this case, the receiver is fitted into the canal of your ear, rather than housed in the casing that hangs behind your ear.
In the Ear (ITE)
ITE hearing aids boast an ease of design: all components are housed in one piece that fits snugly into your ear. These are made from a customized mold of your ear, with the faceplate on the surface of your concha. Stylistically speaking, ITE hearing aids visible in the ear, with the volume and program controls located on the faceplate, making them easier to access than in the BTE design. ITE hearing aids accommodate a smaller range of hearing needs and are usually recommended for individuals who have mild to severe hearing loss.
In the Canal (ITC) and Completely in the Canal (CIC)
These two forms of hearing aids are similar to ITE hearing aids in that all components are encased in one unit that fits inside your year. While ITE hearing aids are visible, both ITC and CIC hearing aids are visually undetectable and might be a choice for individuals who prefer to wear a discreet design. Like ITE hearing aids, both ITC and CIC styles are custom made from an impression of your ear to ensure a snug fit. The ITC hearing aid is slightly larger than the CIC, with the small face of the component slightly visible at the opening of the ear canal. CIC hearing aids are situated deeper in the canal, with a mechanism to remove and place the aid. Both ITC and CIC hearing aids accommodate levels of mild to severe hearing loss.
Though the variety of factors and options appear overwhelming, a consultation with your hearing healthcare provider will hone in on your specific needs and preferences. You will receive assistance on selecting one that simultaneously improves your hearing health while seamlessly fitting into your lifestyle.
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