Understanding Hearing Aid Options
There are many different types of hearing aids available on the market today. They come in all shapes and sizes, with different features and benefits. Here's what you need to know about the different types of hearing aids available and the benefits of each so that you can make an informed decision about which is right for you.
Types of Hearing Aids—Fit
While hearing aids used to be clunky instruments that sat behind your ear, today's models are sleek and discrete. There are three main types of hearing aids:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE). BTE aids are the most common type of hearing aid and are what most people picture when they think of a hearing aid. BTEs have come a long way, however. Today's models are slimmed down and barely noticeable behind the ear. They are most commonly used for people with severe hearing loss because their larger size allows more room for mechanical components.
- In-the-ear (ITE). ITE aids are worn inside the ear and are smaller than BTE aids. ITE aids are less visible than BTE aids because they are inside your ear. The outside edge of an ITE typically sits flush with the outside of your ear. ITE aids are most commonly used for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
- Completely-in-the-canal (CIC). CIC aids are the smallest type of hearing aid and are worn inside the ear canal. CIC aids are barely visible, if at all. CIC aids are most commonly used for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
There is also a hearing aid that clips to your outer ear and resembles a cartilage piercing. Young people with mild hearing loss may appreciate the hidden-in-plain-sight hearing aid.
Types of Hearing Aids—Performance
Hearing aids can also be grouped by performance or how they work. Here you have two options, including:
- Analog. Analog hearing aids use metal coils and wires to process sound signals. They do not give individuals much control over how they hear sounds, but they provide good sound quality and background noise reduction. Most older hearing aids use analog technology.
- Digital. Like many things in society, hearing aids have gone digital. Digital hearing aids use computer chips to process sound signals. They give individuals more control over how they hear sounds by allowing them to adjust settings such as volume, pitch, and loudness. As a result, digital hearing aids provide clear sound quality.
It should be noted that while digital provides a better-quality sound than analog, there is a period of adjustment when switching from analog to digital.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to deciding which type of hearing aid works for you. Hearing loss, control, and personal preference all have a say. The best way to determine which hearing aid is right for you is to consult with a qualified audiologist.
Contact a local hearing aid service to learn more.