Different Kinds of Hearing Aids and How to Select the Best One for You
If you are among the 48 million Americans who suffer from a hearing loss of some kind, you may be wondering if using hearing aids can help.
A hearing aid can help you hear better, even though it can’t restore typical hearing. It may also significantly increase your general quality of life.
Learn about the various kinds of hearing aids that are available and how to select the best one for you by continuing to read.
How Hearing Aids Operate?
Your doctor could advise you to wear a tiny electronic device called a hearing aid in your ear or behind your ear if you have hearing loss.
As per the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the apparatus enlarges the sound waves that enter the ear canal, hence enhancing speech comprehension and hearing abilities.
Whatever the type, hearing aids consist of three parts:
- An audio device (a microphone)
- A loudspeaker (an amplifier)
- An orator (a speaker)
The microphone receives sound and transforms it into electrical impulses. These signals are sent to the amplifier, which amplifies their strength. The signals are subsequently transmitted from the amplifier to the ear via a speaker.
Hearing Aid Types
Hearing aids can be distinguished by their unique features, functionality, and placement. There are four main categories of devices:
- rear of the ear (BTE)
- canal-side (ITC)
- internal ear (ITE)
- intra-canal receiver (RIC)
Each of these kinds will be covered in the sections that follow.
A note regarding costs price differences between hearing aids can be significant, depending on features, technology, and type. For instance, one set of data states that the cost of a single hearing aid can vary from $1,400 to $2,200. Shopping around is the best way to find hearing aids at different price points.
BTE aids, also known as behind-the-ear devices, are worn behind the ear. They have a transparent tube attached to the earmold. There is a compartment behind the ear that holds all of the parts.
BTEs are reasonably sturdy and simple to handle and clean. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that since the earmold can be changed as the child grows, BTEs are advised for children.
An open-fit hearing aid is a type of BTE that fits entirely behind the ear, leaving the ear canal open. A small tube enters the canal. If you are prone to buildup or have a lot of earwax, this style may occasionally be advised.
- simple to use, handle, and clean
- suitable for those with moderate to severe hearing loss
- greater battery life compared to smaller gadgets
- good option for children
- minimal feedback
- functions well with telecoils and directional microphones
- most common kind of hearing aid
- larger and more noticeable than other looks
- can obstruct if you wear spectacles
- able to detect outside noise, such as wind
A thin, plastic shell that is positioned inside the canal is called an in-the-canal (ITC) aid. They are renowned for being user-friendly and cozy. They are also designed to match the shape and size of your ear. Nonetheless, some people find them more difficult to use due to their small size.
ITCs are effective for mild to severe hearing loss, but they are not advised for severe hearing loss.
Different Models of ITC Hearing Aids
An ITC hearing aid that is deeply seated in the canal is one variation of the device. This design, also known as completely-in-the-canal (CIC), is tiny, hardly noticeable, and offers no feedback when using a phone.
But a CIC costs more and could make your voice sound too loud (a phenomenon called the occlusion effect).
For those with mild to moderate hearing loss, this style is better suited.
- extremely tiny and nearly undetectable
- most covert type of hearing aid
- using directional microphones, ITC operates
- simple to operate on a phone
- more challenging to remove and modify
- prone to earwax accumulation and moisture
- unsuitable for those with severe hearing loss
- for directional microphones, the CIC is too small.
Although they are a little bigger than ITC aids, in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are manageable. The components are housed inside a shell that covers the outer portion of the ear.
The NIDCD claims that installing a telecoil is one of the benefits of ITEs. This enables sound to be received via the hearing aid’s circuitry rather than the microphone. Additionally, it facilitates clearer phone calls.
Those with mild to severe hearing loss benefit most from ITEs.
- gadget is one unit.
- can find them in various hues to complement various skin tones.
- functions well with telecoils and directional microphones
- excellent audio clarity
- Unsuitable for those with severe hearing loss
- may detect problems with feedback
- more pronounced than other designs and styles
- earwax buildup prone
The kind of hearing aid known as receiver-in-canal (RIC), in which the receiver is positioned inside the ear canal. The receiver is tiny, and the tube is essentially undetectable. They are suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss and are usually smaller than a BTE.
This kind of hearing aid tends to have fewer feedback problems, but it may be more prone than some others to accumulate moisture and wax.
- taciturn and formidable
- less problems with feedback than other types of hearing aids
- employs an open fit concept, which leaves the ear canal partially open.
- produces a natural sound that is clear.
- unsuitable for those with severe hearing loss
- more pronounced than some of the more subtle styles
- earpiece could result in increased moisture or wax accumulation.
Digital vs. Analog Hearing Aids
While all hearing aids use electronics, the specific type will determine how they operate. The two main categories of electronics are analog and digital. Although they do it differently, both transform sound waves. These are some of the main distinctions between digital and analog hearing aids.
Digital Hearing Aids
Sound waves are converted to numerical codes by a digital hearing aid. Next, these codes are made louder.
Analog Hearing Aids
The gadget transforms sound waves into electrical signals when used with an analog hearing aid. Next, these signals are strengthened. According to the FDA, these are generally less costly than digital hearing aids, but they are also less widely used.
Audiologists often choose this option for their patients who want a hearing aid that better suits their needs and listening environments because they can program the device to amplify certain frequencies more than others.
How to Select the Appropriate Types of Hearing Aid for Yourself
Every hearing loss is unique. It takes some trial and error to choose the best hearing aid, but there are a few pointers to make sure the procedure goes easily.
See a Physician
Getting your hearing evaluated by a physician is one of the best ways to determine if you need a hearing aid. They are able to offer suggestions regarding what will be most effective for your hearing.
Take It For a Trial First
Ask to try first the hearing aids after you’ve selected a style. Most businesses offer free trials. However, find out the specifics of the trial period and confirm that the product is fully refundable in case you decide to return it before you leave the store with them.
Watch Out for Commercials That Make False Claims.
Many businesses advertise on TV and the internet that they sell high-quality hearing aids. Some are not reputable, but many are. Before making a decision to buy a hearing aid online, consult a physician or audiologist. They can assist you in evaluating the credibility of the brand and business.
Other options to think about:
When buying a hearing aids, the style and type are usually the deciding factors. Nevertheless, there are additional aspects to consider, such as:
- An antenna
- noise abatement
- directed recording devices
- rechargeable energy sources
- an audio output plug-in
- distant controllers
Make sure to enquire about the trial period if you’re trying a new style or if these are your first time using hearing aids. The majority of manufacturers provide at least a 30-day trial. However, some might have nonrefundable costs, so find out before you leave the store.
The length of the warranty and its contents are also important factors. Before making a purchase, check the fine print and ask any questions. If there is a chance to extend the warranty, you might also want to think about doing so.
Fixes and Modifications
Make sure you enquire about adjustments and repairs. For what duration does the audiologist from whom you bought the hearing aid provide free or discounted adjustments or repairs?
A hearing aid with continuing support may end up costing more, but the peace of mind is frequently worth it.
Which Kinds of Hearing Aids Are Most Effective For Kids?
Working with an audiologist who specializes in treating children is the best course of action when choosing a hearing aid for a child. To guarantee a proper fit, an audiologist will take an impression of the outer ear canal. In the upcoming visit, the audiologist will:
- Verify that your child’s earmolds fit their ears properly.
- Customize the hearing aids to meet your child’s requirements.
- Instruct your child on how to use and insert the devices into their ears.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) states that because behind-the-ear (BTE) devices can fit various earmold styles, they are the best hearing aids for kids. BTEs are also simple to handle, clean, and replace. They are also safe for small ears.
How to Have an Affordable for Hearing Aids
There are ways to lower the cost of hearing aids if that is keeping you from purchasing them. Many people turn to other organizations in order to afford a hearing aid, as the majority of private health insurance plans and Medicare do not cover these devices.
Consider the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) program if your child has hearing loss. Medicaid will cover the cost of diagnosing hearing loss and treating it, including the use of hearing aids. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program or your state’s early intervention program may also provide coverage for your child.
Surgery is needed to implant a new kind of hearing aid known as a bone-anchored, or cochlear, hearing aid. Medicare has recognized it as a prosthetic device as a result, enabling coverage for certain adults.
Some government and state agencies, independent organizations, and nonprofits provide financial support or secondhand or reconditioned hearing aids. Get in touch with the NIDCD for additional details.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
How To Avoid Hearing Loss?
According to NYU Langone Health, not all hearing loss is avoidable. For example, age-related hearing loss may be inherited and cannot be prevented. You can, however, take precautions to guard against hearing loss brought on by noise.
The inner ear, which processes sound, can be harmed by loud noises. According to the NIDCD, this includes noise levels of 85 decibels or higher.
When working in a noisy environment, wearing protective noise-canceling earmuffs or earplugs can help. Moreover, lowering the music’s volume when using earbuds or headphones can help.
Which Is The Best Assistive Technology For Profound Hearing Loss?
A stronger hearing aid is needed for severe hearing loss than one that would be adequate for mild to moderate loss. When choosing a device, it’s important to read the fine print because some hearing aids are only suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss.
For many different kinds of hearing loss, such as severe to profound hearing loss, behind-the-ear devices are frequently more suitable. The more understated, diminutive styles might not have sufficient strength.
Working with an audiologist is ideal if you have a severe to profound hearing loss. They’ll be able to assess your hearing, match you with the ideal equipment, make necessary corrections, and offer continuing assistance.
Which Type of Hearing Aid Costs The Least?
A hearing aid is an expensive purchase. Spending more than $1,000 on a single device is not unusual; some of the best hearing aids can run up to $6,000 or more per pair.
Reducing the number of features, such as voice recognition and Bluetooth, is another way to save money. Behind-the-ear devices can occasionally be found for less money than more subdued or specially designed models.
Nevertheless, it’s advisable to discuss your specific circumstances with a hearing care professional. They will assist you in deciding whether an inexpensive pair will suit your needs or whether you would be better off spending more money on a more upscale model and brand.
A tiny gadget called a hearing aid is used to enhance hearing by boosting hard-to-hear sounds.
Depending on your desired features and the kind of hearing aid you need, an audiologist or doctor will suggest a particular model. Nowadays, digital hearing aids predominate over analog ones.
Given the high cost of hearing aids, you should shop around and compare costs.
Consult your physician if you have any questions concerning hearing aids or how they might benefit you. In order to help fit you for hearing aids, they can start the process of testing your hearing and refer you to an audiologist.