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Hearing Aids: The Different Types & How They Work

two different types of hearing aids

The most common recommendation when you experience permanent hearing loss is to wear hearing aids. However, if you’ve never needed any corrections for your hearing comfort before, the idea of receiving hearing aids can be confusing. 

First of all, it is fair to mention that the recommendation to wear hearing devices is the result of observations and hearing examinations. Your hearing instrument specialist (HIS) will consider the best approach for your specific situations and needs before discussing with the possibility of a wearable solution. If you are unfamiliar with hearing health, it’s worth explaining that hearing aids are the most popular approach to provide the correction you need to carry on your day-to-day lifestyle with as little disruption as possible. Your HIS will provide support, guidance and reassurance to help you find the right earpiece. That’s why they will schedule a hearing aid fitting with you. 

But before you get to choose your hearing device, here’s a brief overview of the different types available and how they work. 

Not all cases of hearing loss are the same

Approximately 48 million Americans experience some degree of hearing loss. It is worth mentioning that while age is the most common cause of hearing loss – your hearing health tends to degrade with old age – it isn’t the only predictor. Whether the hearing loss is congenital – it happened at birth – or was acquired, hearing loss can affect people of all ages. 

You will typically find hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. Consequently, not all hearing loss cases need the same type of hearing aids. Your HIS will help you to understand which hearing aid is best suited to your hearing loss. Additionally, depending on your lifestyle and your preferences in terms of communication and technology, you will find that hearing instruments come with a variety of features. 

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids

BTE hearing aids are the world’s most common hearing devices. They are relatively discrete due to their position partially hidden behind your ear. However, if you wear your hair short, it is likely that the people you talk to might spot the hearing aid. As your HIS will explain, BTE hearing aids amplify sounds into an earbud, which is placed inside the ear canal. This enables them to correct mild-to-severe hearing loss. Because of their broad corrective range and their simple use, they are a favorite first-time hearing instrument. 

They are also easy to maintain, as their size makes cleaning and changing the battery accessible to most wearers. Additionally, while BTE hearing aids come in a range of sizes, they are not suitable for people with sight loss and arthritis as they require manual manipulation for maintenance. 

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids

ITE hearing aids are custom made to fit in your outer ear. Therefore, your HIS will need to make ear mold impressions of your ears to ensure a perfect fit. They can provide correction for mild-to-moderately-severe hearing loss. However, while they are fitted to your ear, they remain somewhat visible to your interlocutors, even though they come in different sizes. 

ITE is a great solution for people who have frequent ear infections because the earpiece doesn’t sit inside the canal. However, similarly to BTE instruments, their outer position means that they can catch wind noises. Additionally, because of their small sizes, ITE earpieces have a small battery, which means you will need to change it more often. 

In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids

ITC hearing instruments are also custom made, using the ear impression taken by your HIS. They fit in the ear canal in the same way than earbuds do, with a small portion showing in the outer ear. As such, they are slightly less visible than other devices. They are suited for mild to severe hearing loss correction. ITE hearing aids are not suitable for extremely severe hearing loss as they can’t provide sufficient, safe sound amplification. Additionally, because of their position above the canal, they are not recommended for people who frequent ear infections or even small canals. 

They are not easy to adjust manually; most wearers tend to book an appointment with their HIS for setting and maintenance. However, you can find remote control features. 

Completely-in-canal (CIC) and invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids are smaller devices that are custom made to fit in your ear canal. They are virtually unnoticeable. Unfortunately, their small size makes them tricky to adjust and maintain without the help of your HIS. They are not suitable for severe hearing loss. 

If you want to discuss how hearing aids can correct your hearing loss and find out how Integrity Hearing Solutions can guide you in your choice, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with our HIS in Mechanicsburg: 727-602-3899 or Carlisle: 717-245-2437.