What is a hearing aid?
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that helps a person listen and communicate by making certain sounds louder. All hearing aids have three basic components: a microphone, amplifier and speaker. The microphone picks up and converts the sound to electrical signals which are sent to the amplifier. The amplifier increases the strength of the signal and then sends the sound to the ear through the speaker.
Some hearing aids fit behind the ears, while other styles fit completely in the wearer’s ear. Multiple factors are considered when choosing an appropriate style of hearing aid including severity and configuration of hearing loss, lifestyle, dexterity and patient preference. The style of the device does not typically determine the cost of the device.
Hearing Aid Styles
Custom Hearing Aid Styles
IIC hearing aids are chosen for their discreetness and are typically worn by patients with mild to moderate hearing loss. Because of their small size, these are best suited for patients with good dexterity and vision. The device has no Bluetooth capabilities and will be battery powered.
CIC hearing aids are cosmetically appealing because of their small size. As with an IIC style, these are best suited for patients with good dexterity and vision. Bluetooth is available in some CIC hearing aids, but the device will be battery powered.
ITC/HS hearing aids sit in the lower portion of the bowl of the ear and are best suited for patients with mild to severe hearing loss. This device has the ability to be rechargeable, which can make for easier use for someone with dexterity or vision issues. Rechargeable and Bluetooth enabled options are available for ITC/HS hearing aids.
ITE/FS hearing aids are the largest custom options available and will take up the entire bowl of the ear. Due to the large size, this device is best suited for someone with poor dexterity or limited vision. Rechargeable and Bluetooth enabled options are available for ITC/HS hearing aids.
Behind the Ear Hearing Aid Styles
RIC hearing aids are the most popular style of hearing aid on the market. A portion of the hearing aid sits behind the ear with a small wire running around the ear, and a dome sits in the ear canal. This style can be very discreet and fit a variety of hearing losses. Custom earmolds can be added to this style to accommodate a more significant hearing loss. Rechargeable and Bluetooth enabled options are available for RIC hearing aids.
BTE hearing aids sit behind the ear and typically have a custom earmold or slim tube component to the device, rather than an electrical wire like a RIC hearing aid. Traditional BTE hearing aids are worn by patients with more severe hearing losses.
Hearing Aid Technology
Hearing aids come in different levels of technology to meet the various lifestyle needs of patients. Most manufacturers have four levels of technology, ranging from premium technology with sophisticated processing in background noise to more basic technology for quieter environments. Rechargeability and Bluetooth connectivity are available (at no additional cost) for certain styles of hearing aid only.
Choose this level of technology if you want to maximize your hearing to the fullest. Premium technology is designed to support understanding in the most difficult listening situations. Includes a 3-year service plan.
Choose this level of technology to enhance hearing ability in areas with moderate background noise, such as restaurants. Includes a 3-year service plan.
Choose this level to boost understanding in small group conversations that take place in minimal background noise. Includes a 3-year service plan.
Choose this level of technology to improve daily communication abilities in conversations or activities that take place in quiet environments. Includes a 2-year service plan.
Hearing Aid Manufacturers