When you think of a hearing aid, what image comes to mind? Do you picture someone fumbling around with a large, clunky contraption hanging out of their ear, desperately trying to silence that terrible whistling noise?
If you find yourself in the market for hearing aids, either for yourself or a loved one, do not despair. Hearing aid technology has increased by leaps and bounds in recent years. The days of bulky, cumbersome hearing aids are over.
Although hearing aids have vastly improved over the years, the task of selecting the right one can seem daunting. Each person’s hearing situation is unique and there are so many options available. Dr. Tanner allows patients to try hearing aids from various top brands before making a purchase in order to determine the hearing aids that give them the best experience.
Allow our team of professionals here at Advanced Diagnostics and Hearing Solutions (ADHS) to walk through this process with you. Located in Brandon, Florida, Dr. Lisa Tanner, licensed audiologist, is fully committed to helping each of her patients find the best solutions for their specific hearing needs.
Hearing aids vary by size, shape, special features, and where they rest in the ear. They range from very basic styles to highly-sophisticated, more complex options.
All hearing aids have five basic components. These include:
- Computer chips
These parts are the basic "building blocks" of a hearing aid. The arrangement of these various parts will determine the style of your device.
Continue reading to learn more about the most common styles of hearing aids.
In-the-ear hearing aids are a larger, more traditional style. This hearing aid is custom-designed to sit in the outer ear, encompassing either the full ear (full shell) or the lower part of the ear (half shell).
Although it is more visible than smaller devices, its size makes handling the unit easier, and also allows for a larger, longer-lasting battery. Additionally, there is more room for extra features, including volume control, directional microphone capabilities, and telecoil.
ITE hearing aids are appropriate for mild to severe hearing loss.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are less visible than larger styles. They are smaller than ITE hearing aids, and are custom-molded to rest comfortably in the outer portion of the ear canal. ITC hearing aids can accommodate a wide range of hearing losses.
Because the unit sits further in the ear, ITC hearing aids can become clogged with earwax. Moisture can also accumulate inside the ear, potentially damaging the unit. Depending on manual dexterity, adjusting the features and replacing the battery may be challenging for some people.
Receiver in Canal (RIC) hearing aids are comfortable and discrete. The bulk of the unit is hidden behind the ear. A tiny, translucent wire wraps up and over the ear, with its tip settling into the ear canal. This places the speaker closer to the eardrum.
RIC hearing aids are suitable for mild to profound hearing loss.
Completely in Canal (CIC) hearing aids are extremely small and are barely visible within the ear canal. Used for mild to moderate hearing loss, CIC hearing aids are a cosmetically-appealing choice for those looking for a more concealed option.
Because they are deep in the ear, CIC hearing aids are less sensitive to wind noise. Wearers also experience minimal feedback when using a phone.
However, its small size does create a few disadvantages. Batteries are small, shorter-lasting, and can be hard to handle. Also, there is not room for many extra features. Earwax can clog the unit, and some people report a “plugged” feeling in the ear. Moisture damage can also be an issue.
Although traditionally large and bulky, behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids have increased in popularity due to a sleeker, discrete design. BTE units are easy to maintain, offer a variety of adjustable features, and are beneficial for all degrees of hearing loss.
In BTE styles, the hearing aid components rest inconspicuously behind the ear. A thin tube reaches up and over the ear, connecting the device to a custom-made earmold.
BTE hearing aids are particularly useful for children. As the child grows and develops, the earmolds can be replaced, while still keeping the original hearing aid.
Invisible in the Canal (IIC) hearing aids are extremely tiny and practically disappear within the ear canal, making them highly appealing to the person seeking a more hidden option. They sit deep in the ear canal and are suitable for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss.
As with the other smaller hearing aids, the IIC style can be difficult to handle if manual dexterity is limited. Batteries are shorter-lasting and extra features may be limited. Also, earwax buildup or moisture damage can occur.
Schedule a free initial consultation with Dr. Tanner.
The modern technology of our day has infiltrated the realm of hearing aids as well, producing highly sophisticated and state-of-the-art devices; as a result, wearers can experience a clearer, more natural listening experience than ever before.
Today, the majority of hearing aids are digital, making them extremely versatile. Some are equipped with wireless technology, meaning they can connect to MP3 players, TVs, computers, mobile phones, and other electronic devices. Some hearing aids can even link up with automated devices around the home.
The one-size-fits-all approach of the past is gone. Hearing aids today can be programmed as uniquely as each individual wearing them.
Digital Hearing Aids
Digital hearing aids are extremely customizable and can be programmed to amplify the exact frequencies that will improve your overall hearing ability.
Digital hearing aids perform multiple functions simultaneously. Sounds entering the microphones are analyzed and processed with rapid speed. During challenging listening scenarios, hearing aids automatically adjust, fading out background noise and boosting forward conversational sounds.
Other features include wind noise reduction technology, echo block, adaptive microphones, feedback management, and telecoil.
Bluetooth Hearing Aids
Some hearing aids feature Bluetooth technology that enables the wearer to connect to various electronic devices. With this streaming capability, sounds can enter directly into the processor, which produces clearer signals and reduces interference from ambient noise.
Instead of fumbling with tiny knobs, volume and other settings can be adjusted by using a remote or by using an APP installed on a smart phone.
Hearing Aids are Smart Phone Compatible (iPhone)
Some hearing aids today are smart phone compatible. This allows the wearer to stream phone calls, videos, music, and more straight to the hearing aid. You can even check the status of your battery or locate lost hearing aids.
Data logging and learning features also keep track of certain adjustments made in a particular environment. Over time, they “learn” these changes and will begin to make those adjustments automatically.
Over the years, Dr. Tanner has worked with many different hearing aid brands and styles. Her top brand recommendations are:
In her professional experience, these four brands manufacture top-of-the-line hearing aids with prime features, and prove to be the most valuable for her patients’ hearing needs.
Hearing Aids for Tinnitus
If you have bothersome ringing or head noise in the ears, otherwise known as tinnitus, hearing aids can help minimize these extra noises and distract the brain from focusing on them.
By enhancing background noises or playing soothing tones, hearing aids can help camouflage these frustrating extra sounds. As a result, wearers may find their speech, communication, and life satisfaction greatly improved.
Schedule a Free Hearing Aid Consultation
If you feel overwhelmed by the process of choosing a hearing aid, contact our office today to schedule a free hearing aid consultation.
Dr. Tanner will use her professional knowledge and experience to help you make informed decisions about the style and brand of hearing aid that is best-suited for you or your loved one’s needs.
During a consultation session, besides looking at your type and degree of hearing loss, Dr. Tanner will strive to get to know you as a person. Your hobbies, favorite social activities, career demands, cosmetic preferences, budget, and more will all help determine the best hearing aid choice for you. In the end, her goal is to not only improve your hearing, but enhance your overall quality of life as well.