Hearing Aid Styles
Hearing aids come in many different shapes and sizes, meaning there are devices out there to suit almost anyone. Broadly speaking they can be separated into three categories; Behind-The-Ear, Receiver-In-Canal and In-The-Ear. In this article we'll look at each style and explore their features.
BTE hearing aids are characterised by the entire device (battery, processor, speaker and all) residing behind the ear. They tend to be larger and fitted with an earmould, which is a custom made plastic piece worn in the ear to secure the aid. These types of aids are most suited to people who require a lot of volume (due to severe hearing loss) or to people who have poor dexterity and eyesight, as having a larger device can be easier to manage.
RIC hearing aids are similar to behind the ear aids, however they are often smaller and lighter. This is because instead of the speaker unit being housed behind the ear, it is positioned in the ear canal, attached to the main body of the hearing aid with a very thin, strong wire. These aids are the most flexible for Audiologists to work with and are suitable for almost everyone. The added benefit of having the speaker unit in the ear canal means sounds can be made clear and more natural.
ITEs are hearing aids which reside exclusively in the ear's entrance, with no external apparatus behind the ear. Often custom built to the shape of a person's ear canal, these aids can be very convenient and discreet, however they can sound less natural than BTEs and RICs.
Completely in canal (CIC)
CICs are the ultimate small, in the ear hearing aids. These reside deeper in the ear canal, and like ITEs are custom made. The manufacturer can often build a CIC to be ultra discrete, but may have to sacrifice certain components to fit everything in, meaning CICs often don't come with wireless technology or controls.
Modern rechargeable hearing aids first came to market in 2016 and have since become extremely popular. Similar to mobile phones they work using a lithium ion that needs to be charged over night when not in use. Many people find this option to be more convenient than having to change a disposable battery every few days, and is kinder to the environment.
Some hearing aids can connect to your mobile phone via bluetooth (or 2.4 GHz for iphones). This enables audio from the phone to be streamed directly in the hearing aids, resulting in easier call conversation and enjoyment of music. It also turns the phone into a controller, with many manufacturers providing apps that allow users to change volume, tone and noise reduction with the swipe of a finger.
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