There is a wide range of hearing aids available. Each device is designed to meet a person’s specific hearing loss, physical needs and personal preferences.
Generally, a hearing aid collects sounds through small microphones, converting them to a digital signal and amplifying the sound. Then it sends the call to a miniature loudspeaker that delivers the amplified sound to the ear.
In-the-canal (ITC) styles
Many hearing aid styles are available to help you manage your hearing loss. The best type for you depends on your ear anatomy, the degree of hearing loss and other factors, such as your lifestyle.
Custom-fit to your ear canal and available in various colors to match your skin tone, ITC hearing aids are discreet and easy to use. They also sit recessed into the ear, so you won’t have to worry about them blocking your view when watching TV or making a phone call.
ITC hearing aids can host many features, including directional microphones that reduce background noise, manual controls and larger batteries. They are also easier to insert and remove than smaller IIC and CIC designs.
A completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid is the smallest of all custom-made devices and is made to fit entirely inside your ear canal, so they are very discreet. However, CIC hearing aids lack directional microphones and have shorter battery life than larger models.
ITC hearing aids are an excellent choice for people with mild to moderate hearing loss who want a comfortable, streamlined design that goes unnoticed. As stated in the Phonak hearing aids review, they are simple to maintain and provide all the necessary power and features. But be aware that this style of hearing aid requires a custom fit from your audiologist and can take some professional tweaking to get the right sound level without feedback.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) styles
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are one of the most common hearing aids available. These hearing aids amplify sounds by combining a microphone, an amplifier and a computer chip. They are also the most influential style of hearing aids and can be a good choice for people with severe to profound hearing loss.
BTEs consist of a hard plastic case that sits behind the ear and connects to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The electronics sit in the case, with a thin wire connecting them to the earmold.
Several different BTE styles exist, including traditional and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) styles. RICs and RITEs are smaller and more discreet and place the speaker in the ear canal, delivering sound directly into the ear canal.
With BTEs, the battery and microphone are centered in the shell behind the ear. They are shaped and designed to fit the shape of the ear and are typically made in a range of colors to match your personality and skin tone.
There are various benefits to choosing BTEs over ITE and CIC styles, such as better amplification, more durability, more manual controls and a larger battery for longer-lasting power. They come in various colors and designs and can host more advanced features like Bluetooth capabilities and tinnitus relief programs.
Mini BTE styles
You’re probably used to hearing aids that sit behind your ear, but not all hearing aid styles are created equal. Various hearing aids range from the most discreet to the most powerful.
BTE hearing aids are among the most popular styles, but many variations are available. Some are so small that they’re nearly invisible; others come in funky designs to blend with hair or skin tones.
They are less susceptible to moisture damage from your ear canal, so they’re great for people with a lot of earwax buildup in their ears. This also means they’re easier to clean, which may be vital if you struggle with cleaning your ear canals or have trouble handling larger hearing aids.
Another benefit of these styles is that they are usually more easily re-fitted as you grow. That’s why they are often prescribed for children with hearing loss.
These models also usually have wireless features, making them more convenient to use if you spend a lot of time away from home or on the go. They’re also the largest and easiest to handle, so they can be a good choice if you have dexterity issues or are having difficulty using smaller hearing aids. They come with rechargeable batteries and can connect to a smartphone, tablet or other devices, so you can take your hearing aids wherever you go.
Receiver-in-canal (RIC) and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) styles
There are two main styles of hearing aids: behind-the-ear (BTE) and receiver-in-canal (RIC). Both have a shell that rests behind the ear and a thin wire that connects it to a small bud containing the microphone and amplifier.
While both RIC and BTE models are easy to handle, the shell of a BTE is more extensive and requires more strength or dexterity to remove. RICs, on the other hand, are smaller and more discreet. They also come in a variety of colors, which makes them appealing to many people with hearing loss.
RICs can be replaced with new receivers, which are simple to swap in and out with little time or hassle. Replacing the receiver is similar to plugging in a new TV or a computer.
In addition, RICs often feature telecoils that help you hear on telephones and other devices, such as public induction loop systems. They can also be equipped with wireless connectivity, which allows you to connect your device to a phone or other music player via Bluetooth.
Like all hearing aids, RICs require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure effectiveness and longevity. These devices are vulnerable to earwax buildup and moisture, which can cause the receivers to malfunction. RICs are also susceptible to damage caused by chewing or moving the jaw, which can cause the earpiece to shift out of the ear canal.
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