Hearing aids have been around for a long time, but recent advancements in digital technology have been a boon to the development of new and varied choices for the person interested in improving their hearing. One of the most popular choices is the ITE (inside the ear) – or low profile – hearing aid.
An ITE keeps a low profile by being inside the ear canal, but there are other types of hearing aids that are even more low profile. The ITE style of hearing aid is not for everyone as the hearing improvement may only be heard by a percentage of those with hearing loss. Other hearing aids are available that use the latest in digital technology and may be more effective for those who experience no improvement from the ITE hearing aid, but many of those must be worn outside the ear.
Types of Hearing Aids
There are two basic types of hearing aids: In the ear and behind the ear – and there are choices to be made in both categories. The perfect style for you may not be determined by appearance alone; in many cases, the hearing aid that will produce the best results will be determined based on the evaluation of a hearing specialist. New hearing aids not only amplify sounds, they can screen out background noise and are computer programmed to match the kind of hearing loss that the wearer is having.
In the ear
The four types of in the ear hearing aids are: the invisible in the canal (IIC), completely in the canal (CIC), in the canal (ITC), and low profile. The low profile is inconspicuous, but can be seen in the outer ear bowl. The larger size of the low profile and ITC style of hearing aids allows for the addition of directional microphones to provide an even greater improvement in hearing. The larger size of these hearing aids can also make installing new batteries a little easier.
The other two styles (IIC and CIC) are much smaller in size and cannot have any additions like microphones. Their batteries don’t last as long and the effects of moisture and earwax can be a hindrance to proper functioning. So even though it is more easily seen than other in the ear style hearing aids, the low profile hearing aid does have some advantages.
Outside the Ear
A hearing aid worn outside the ear or the behind the ear (BTE) are the largest of the hearing aids. They hook onto the ear and sit just behind it. This style of hearing aid is connected to a tube that travels to an earmold which is placed in the ear canal. The main drawback of the BTE hearing aid may be that it will pick up more wind noise than the inside the ear styles, but they also deliver the greatest amplification.
Other BTE hearing aids – the receiver in canal (RIC) and the receiver in the ear (RITE) – use wires to connect the outer piece with the inner microphone or speaker. These also may have more interference and potential problems caused by earwax. Another outside style is the open fit hearing aid that amplifies high frequency sounds while using a thin tube to keep the ear open and more receptive to lower frequencies.
Many people who suffer from hearing loss refuse to wear a hearing aid due to their appearance. It is unfortunate that someone would go on missing out on sounds, noises and voices that can enrich their lives just because of appearance alone. And with the advancements in the equipment available, odds are good that a person suffering from mild hearing loss may benefit greatly from a hearing aid that is so small and inconspicuous that it is nearly impossible to notice.
The best hearing aid for you will ultimately depend on the results of a hearing test, which will determine what style will help you the most. Don’t let possibility of a change to your appearance deter you from hearing the world around you clearly. If you can’t seem to hear as well as you used to, schedule an appointment for an evaluation today with Dr. Joshua Light. We will help you hear what you may be missing!