Hearing aids work by amplifying sounds. They transmit sounds to hair cells in the inner ear, which are then converted into nerve signals to the brain. Hearing aids work with your brain. If sounds from different frequencies are no longer received by the brain, then it gradually “forgets” how to process these sounds. This is why it can take several weeks to get used to hearing aids after not hearing these sounds for several years. Hearing aids help to retrain the brain to hear again and process speech sounds so that not only are you able to hear again, but also understand speech better.
There are a wide variety of hearing aid styles and technologies to suit individual needs, lifestyles and preferences. Modern technology has advanced so that today’s hearing devices are “not your grandpa’s hearing aids”.
Hearing Device Styles
There are many variables that determine which hearing aid style and technology would be best suited to your individual needs. The best solution will be based on degree and style of hearing loss, lifestyle, ear canal size and shape, dexterity, vision, mental capacity, earwax production, drainage or surgery of the ear, employment/recreational needs, style preference and cost factors.
These are the most common hearing aid styles:
Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids
Most comfortable, sound is more natural, cosmetically appealing (less noticeable), worn easily with glasses, wireless connectivity to Bluetooth devices, longer battery life than smaller custom hearing aids.
May or may not require a custom mold depending on degree of hearing loss/ear shape.
Invisible-In-Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids
Fits deeply in the canal, cosmetically appealing (invisible depending on size of ear canal), physically protected from direct wind noise, compatible with telephones, cell phones, in some cases, less occlusion effect (head-in-the-barrel feeling) and since the receiver is closer to the eardrum, less gain is usually required.
Completely-In-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
Fits completely in the canal, cosmetically appealing (depending on the size and shape of the ear canal), less wind noise effect, compatible with telephones and less gain is usually required since it is closer to the eardrum.
In-The-Canal & Half Shell (ITC/HS) Hearing Aids
Fits partly in the ear, easier to handle for people with manual dexterity problems, user controls (volume wheel, program switches) available on the hearing aid, compatible with telephones, batteries last longer than smaller custom hearing aids, wireless option for Bluetooth devices now available.
In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
Fits fully in the whole ear, easier to handle for manual dexterity problems, more user controls for volume and program switches directly on the hearing aid, compatible with telephones, batteries last longer due to size, wireless option for Bluetooth devices now available.
Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
Fits comfortably behind the ear and is connected by clear tubing to an earmold that fits inside your ear canal.
Most user controls available, allows for FM compatibility, wireless connection to Bluetooth cell phones/devices, most resistant to breakdown since none of the hearing aid electronics fit into the ear canal where wax and moisture cause problems (only the mold fits in the ear), batteries last longest of any style because of the larger battery, can fit severe to profound hearing losses.