The first thing that comes to mind when choosing a hearing aid is style…
Will it complement my overall look?
Is the styling discreet?
These are valid questions and knowing the different styles can address these concerns.
All hearing aids come in different styles and sizes. There are two main categories: hearing aids that are worn completely in the ear, and those that are worn behind the ear. While smaller hearing aids can be more expensive, it is generally the level of technology and feature set, which determines the price. Smaller styles may also only suitable for certain types of hearing loss, so an appointment with a qualified Audiologist can be enlightening.
Before you look for a hearing aid in Brisbane, check the different styles in more detail below:
Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) Hearing Aids
These are the smallest aids available that fit so far into your ear that no-one can see them. An impression is taken of your ear and the aids are custom made to fit your ear.
IIC aids are recommended for people with a mild to severe hearing loss.
Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aids
Completely-in-the-Canal or CIC aids are the next smallest hearing aid available today. They are tiny enough to fit inside the ear canal. Its size only allows for one directional microphone but the patient’s environment will sound more natural. This also greatly reduces wind noise as the aid is hidden inside the ear.
The CIC’s design does not impede a person’s daily function. Users can still wear headgear such as bike helmets. It can also be programmed to fit the patient’s hearing needs.
Some brands of CIC aids are wireless, meaning you can connect a Bluetooth remote control so you can connect your mobile and use the aids like a hands-free device.
In-the-Canal or ITC Hearing Aids
In-the-Canal aids are the next size up from the CIC hearing aids. They are custom moulded and partially fit in the ear canal. Once worn, an ITC is less visible. Due to its size, features such as volume control may not be available on the body of the hearing aid, or it may be automatic or controlled via remote device (remote control).
The “Half-shell” is another style of ITC. It is smaller and custom-moulded to fit the bowl-shaped area of a person’s outer ear. Thanks to its design, the half-shell is easier to handle and fits most ears. It also has additional features such as directional microphones.
Adult patients suffering from mild to severe hearing loss will benefit from these hearing aid styles.
In-the-Ear or ITE Hearing Aids
In-the-Ear or ITE aids are custom-made to fit the bowl-shaped area of a patient’s ear. The aid’s parts are contained in a shell and it is more visible than In-the-Canal aids. It also may feature on board volume controls and program buttons, making it easier to adjust. ITEs use larger batteries which means batteries are changed less regularly.
In-the-Ear hearing aids are recommended for people who have mild to severe hearing loss.
Receiver-in-Canal or RIC Hearing Aids
At first glance, Receiver-in-Canal aids are often mistaken for Behind-the-Ear aids. However, its receiver (speaker) is not behind a patient’ ear, it is actually within the ear. The RIC’s subtle and sleek design makes it barely visible when worn. In addition, its open-fit design allows natural sound to pass through the ear’s canal. Due to its stylish and lightweight design, the Receiver-in-Canal hearing aids are popular amongst adult users.
Behind-the-Ear or BTE Hearing Aid
Behind-the-Ear or BTE aids are the largest and most visible amongst hearing aid styles. They also have better sound amplification for severe to profound hearing losses compared to the other styles. Most of its working components are contained in a small plastic case. This rests behind the ear, which connects to an earpiece made from clear tubing. BTEs are very sturdy and easy to clean. Water resistant models are now available.
Modern BTE hearing aids are streamlined, giving them a smaller appearance. They are appropriate for all types of hearing loss.
Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants
Aside from the above-mentioned styles, some people benefit from bone-conduction hearing aids and cochlear implants.
People who do not have outer ears or ear canals can be fitted with Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA). These consist of an abutment that is implanted via surgery into the skull, and a removable outer part which functions like a hearing aid. Surgery is required, and patients must ensure that the abutment is kept clean and disease-free.
Cochlear implants are for those people for whom even the most powerful hearing aid does not provide sufficient benefit, usually because the cochlea is so severely damaged. Electronic strips are surgically inserted into the cochlear and this is connected to an external component that looks like a behind-the-ear style hearing aid. The rehabilitation process is intensive but results can be excellent.
Hearing Aids Specifically for Tinnitus
One out of five people suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus is associated with conditions such as ear injuries, circulatory system disorders or aging. Several hearing aids available today provide a masking sound which has been shown to help those suffering from tinnitus. These hearing aids work on two levels. They help to divert a patient’s attention away from the ringing or sound inside their ears. This helps them focus on the sounds in their environment instead. They also provide a masking effect with sound entering and masking noise which reduces tinnitus for most people.
Nothing can eliminate tinnitus completely. Current treatment plans involve diverting attention away from the tinnitus and introducing masking stimuli to provide relief.
Need more advice or help with choosing the right hearing aid? If you want professional hearing tests and assessment performed only by fully qualified audiologists, call 1300 658 742 or get in touch via our Contact page.