Our office partners with five of the top hearing aid manufacturers (Starkey, Oticon, Phonak, Signia, Widex) to provide a wide range of features, styles and prices to meet every hearing loss need. Many hearing aid styles and technologies are available. Hearing aid selection is based on specific individual needs, including hearing loss, manual dexterity, cosmetic and cost concerns.
Most hearing aids today are completely digital devices which incorporate a tiny computer processor which analyzes sound signals received by the hearing aid and automatically adjusts the output according to the user’s listening requirements. Many hearing aids include directional microphones which help in comprehending speech signals in noisy backgrounds. Some hearing aids identify specific listening environments such as speech, noise or music. Accessories are available which allow connection to other sound sources such as Bluetooth Cell Phones or remote microphones.
Hearing Aid Styles-Open Fit
The Open Fit (also called a “Receiver-in-the-Ear”) is a style that combines superb cosmetics with the improved acoustics which come from an open fit device with the speaker sitting directly in the ear canal. Open fit aids come in a range of attractive contemporary color combinations designed to make a statement or blend in with your hair or skin tone. For current or previous hearing aid users who were annoyed by occlusion, or a “plugged up” sensation, the Open fit style is an excellent choice. This style can include telecoils, has standard directional microphones and some can be paired with Bluetooth devices.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) instruments are appropriate for all degrees of hearing loss. The BTE is connected to a custom made earmold which is inserted in the ear. This type of instrument is a versatile style which typically includes a telecoil, directional microphones and optional Direct Audio Input. The BTE is suitable for hearing aid wearers who have excessive ear wax and moisture problems.
The In-the-Ear (ITE) aid is a custom fit device the fills the outer portion of the ear canal. This style is appropriate for mild to severe hearing loss. The ITE can incorporate many features including telecoils, directional microphones, volume controls and multiple user programs. The ITE often has a larger battery for longer battery life.
This instrument fits completely in the canal portion of the ear and is best for those who feel cosmetics are very important. The appropriateness of this instrument is limited based on an individual’s degree of hearing loss, size of the ear canal, and manual dexterity. Due to the small size, directional microphones are not available on this style. A plus is easy use of the telephone, but this aid uses a small battery with a typical life of 3 to 5 days.
The Invisible-In-the-Canal (IIC) aid is the newest entry into the hearing aid size competition. As the name implies, the devices sits well into the ear canal with a longer removal line. Some contraindications include small ear size, excessive wax production, degree of hearing loss and patient dexterity.