If a hearing aid has been recommended there are several criteria that are used to select what is right for you. Keep in mind, these devices are aids, and will not restore your hearing to normal. Depending on the hearing loss identified, you may require a hearing aid for each ear.
Degree of Hearing Loss – This is the most important criteria in choosing a hearing aid as it determines what device is required. Although appearance is important, the hearing aid must be appropriate for your hearing loss.
Anatomy of Your Ear – The size and shape of the outer ear and ear canal can influence which hearing aids are suitable.
Lifestyle & Use – If you are wanting to wear the hearing aid at work or in noisy environments you may require a unit that suppresses loud background noise. If you use a phone a lot, you may want a device with an autophone or bluetooth capabilities.
Appearance – Most people want the hearing aid to be as inconspicuous as possible although this is not always the best option since the smaller aids have less features. Hearing aids have been redesigned and are no longer the “clunky” devices that you may remember your grandparent wearing.
Cost – We realize price does have an impact on your decision and we will recommend an option that suits your hearing loss and your budget.
Styles of Hearing Aids
Here is a summary list of hearing aid types and some benefits they offer.
CIC (completely-in-the-canal) This style of hearing aid is cosmetically appealing and the microphones are often less affected by wind noise since they are deeply recessed into the ear canal. They are not recommended if you have an issue with draining ears or ear canal abnormalities. Due to the small size, these units can be difficult to handle particularly when replacing batteries if you have dexterity issues. They are suitable for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Given how deeply these hearing aids go into the ear canal they often need to be sent back to the hearing aid manufacturer for repair for earwax and moisture issues.
ITC (in-the-canal) This style of hearing aid sits farther out of the ear canal and is more visible than the CIC style of hearing aid. Since it is larger it can have more features than the CIC hearing aids. The battery is also easier to change than a CIC given the larger battery size. This style of hearing aid is not recommended if you have an issue with draining ears or ear canal abnormalities. They are suitable for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
ITE (in-the-ear) Although more visible than either CIC or ITC hearing aids, ITE devices are more powerful and can be custom made in two sizes – full shell and half shell. The battery is also easier to change than a CIC given the larger battery size. They are not advisable if you have draining ears. They are suitable for people with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss.
BTE (behind-the-ear) This style of hearing aid has two parts – one part sits behind the ear and the other part is a custom earmold that fits tightly into the ear. This style of hearing aid is suitable for all ages and almost any type of hearing loss. BTE devices provide the greatest amplification but are more affected by wind noise because the microphones sit on top and behind the outer ear. This style is a good choice if you have draining ears or significant earwax buildup. Children are usually fit with BTE hearing aids because the earmold can be remade as the child grows.
RIC (receiver-in-canal) This style of hearing aid is discreet in appearance and provides a more natural sound because it does not fully block the ear canal. The receiver is placed in the ear and is connected to the body of the aid by a thin wire. Again this style of aid is not advisable if you have draining ears or ear canal abnormalities. They are suitable for people with mild to severe hearing loss.
Open Fit (slim tube) This style hearing aid is a variation of the BTE (behind-the-ear). They offer more natural sound and can be used by people with draining ears or those who have significant wax build-up. They are suitable for people with mild to severe hearing loss.