Hearing Aids

Hearing Aid Overview

Hearing aids are devices that are used to improve the hearing ability of people who are struggling with hearing loss. These devices are generally very small, often custom-made for the individual, and come in two basic types: behind-the-ear and in-the-ear.
Hearing aids

General Overview of Hearing Aid Styles

Most hearing aids consist of a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. The microphone picks up sound waves and sends them to the amplifier, which intensifies the sound and sends it to the speaker. The speaker then plays the sound waves directly into the ear. Most hearing aids are digital, which means they are programmable, and the settings can be adjusted for the user's individual needs.

Behind-the-ear hearing aids can be more powerful and therefore more effective at amplifying sound. Visibility depends on the exact style, as receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) styles can be nearly invisible. A standard behind-the-ear design is typically more visible than RIC and in-the-ear hearing aids.

Depending on the severity of the hearing loss, Dr. Nicole will determine the optimal devices to address your needs. Additionally, some hearing aids are Bluetooth-enabled, allowing them to be connected to other electronic devices, such as phones, TVs, and computers. These devices can significantly improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss by allowing them to communicate more easily with those around them. They can also help reduce tinnitus and other hearing-related issues.

Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

Behind-the-ear hearing aids are typically worn over the top of the ear, with the body of the device resting behind the ear and a narrow tube connecting it to an earpiece that sits in the ear canal. BTE hearing aids consist of several components that work together to deliver sound to the ear.

First, the microphone picks up sound from the environment and converts it into a digital format that is then strengthened by the amplifier. Finally, the amplified sound is emitted into the ear through a speaker inside the earpiece.

Due to their larger size, BTEs are more powerful and can host more features than other hearing aids. This allows them to treat a wider range of impairment levels. Though they are most beneficial for people with profound hearing loss, BTEs can be just as effective in treating mild to moderate impairment.

Additional advantages of being bigger include the capacity to house onboard manual controls, such as volume wheels and mode buttons, while being easier to handle in general.

Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

The main distinction between RICs and standard BTE hearing aids lies in where their receiver or speaker is located. RIC hearing aids are designed with the receiver built into the portion that is placed inside the ear canal. On the other hand, receivers in BTE hearing aids are located in the main body unit behind the ear and funnel sound through the connecting tube. Either style can be rechargeable and offer advanced features like AI support. RICs offer the ability to replace individual device components, making them more affordable and less complicated to service. However, there are some drawbacks to consider, such as the difficulty of handling the smaller mini-RICs and the vulnerability of the earpiece to moisture or earwax damage.
In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

In-the-ear devices are the smallest type of hearing aids, and most are designed to fit entirely within the ear canal. All ITEs require ear molds or impressions as they are customized to fit the precise dimensions of each user's ear canal. This ensures that sound quality is optimal and that they can be worn for extended periods without causing discomfort.

ITEs are usually powered by a small zinc-air battery, which needs to be replaced periodically. The battery life of these devices can vary depending on the type of hearing aid, duration of use, and what features are enabled. As they are much smaller and less powerful than their BTE counterparts, they are most effective in treating mild to moderate hearing loss. This also limits the number of features they can offer while being more difficult to handle by those with poor manual dexterity.

However, their tiny nature is also their greatest strength, as most types of ITEs are completely invisible when worn correctly. There are three main types of ITEs which consist of the following:

Invisible-In-Canal (IIC) & Completely-In-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

Invisible-In-Canal (IIC) & Completely-In-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

IIC and CIC hearing aids are the most discreet options available, as both are placed entirely inside the ear canal. IICs are inserted the farthest into the ear and can only be removed by pulling on a special string, while CICs are slightly larger and are situated closer to the ear's opening.

Both types of devices have exceptional sound quality because of their custom-molded construction. However, they are more vulnerable to damage from earwax and moisture due to their internal placement, and their tiny batteries need to be replaced more often than larger devices. Furthermore, IICs and CICs have more trouble connecting to other devices wirelessly and lack onboard manual controls.

In-The-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids

In-The-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids
ITC hearing aids are larger than IIC and CIC styles and sit within the bowl of the outer ear. Their larger size makes them easier to handle, while their larger batteries have extended longevity and are powerful enough to resolve a wider range of impairment severities. Like ITCs and IICs, they are prone to damage by moisture or ear wax and have weaker wireless capabilities. Due to their larger size, ITCs can cause more occlusion, giving users the sensation of being plugged up.

Hearing Aid Features

Hearing loss can be a difficult and frustrating condition, making everyday activities seem more like obstacles. Thankfully, hearing aid technology has come a long way in providing additional support and convenience to those with hearing impairments. Hearing aids have become increasingly high-tech, giving people greater accessibility and opportunities to enjoy life equally. Whether they are features that improve device functionality or those that enhance the overall quality of life, many are now standard additions to hearing aids now. Some of the most popular include:
bluetooth hearing devices

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