Experiencing hearing loss can be a stressful experience. It’s frustrating and isolating when you can see a world going on around you, but it feels as if you can’t quite connect properly. Being fitted for a hearing aid is the first step on a journey that will allow you to reconnect with friends and family around you, and properly engaging in life once more.
Starting to look into the different options is a great way to take back control so, below, you’ll find some of the most common forms of hearing aid so you can have a detailed conversation with your audiologist about what the best option for you is on your journey to regaining your full hearing once again.
How does a hearing aid work?
A hearing aid will use a small microphone to carry sounds from the environment to a computer chip with an amplifier. This will transfer the incoming sound to a digital code. The sound will then be analyzed based on your individual needs, the incoming sound and the level of surrounding sound, before being adjusted and amplified so it can be transformed back into sound waves and delivered to your ear. All this will happen in less than a second so, although it might seem like a complex procedure, it will occur without you noticing.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
This is probably the hearing aid you imagine when you think of one – they have a small plastic case which rests behind the ear and electronically magnifies sound in one of three different ways:
- Through a piece of clear tubing that fits a mold that will sit just within your ear.
- Through a piece of clear, flexible tubing which connects to a tiny dome that sits within your ear canal. These can be an attractive option as they are less noticeable than the first option and can produce a more natural sound. However, they can be more difficult to take in and out, so if you find fiddly tasks difficult or you are prone to ear infections, then this might not be the right option for you.
- Through a wire, running from the hearing aid to a tiny loudspeaker, which can sit in the ear canal held in place by a soft tip. Similar to the above option, these aren’t likely to be the right choice for you if you have sight loss or find fiddly tasks awkward.
Although a BTE hearing aid was traditionally the largest aid available, and susceptible to some wind interference, smaller and more streamlined versions are now available. This hearing aid still provides more amplification than other styles.
Completely in canal (CIC)
These hearing aids may be recommended by your audiologist if you have mild to moderate hearing loss as they are fitted at least partially, or sometimes fully within the ear canal and are therefore more discreet than traditional BTE hearing aids. They are not beneficial for those who are prone to ear infections though, due to blocking the ear canal. They can also be liable to becoming clogged with ear wax and can be delicate to adjust.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid
These hearing aids will come recommended by a hearing loss expert and can assist with mild to severe hearing loss difficulties. They come in two forms:
- One that fills the bowl-shaped part of your outer ear (full shell)
- One that fills the lower part (half shell)
These hearing aids have an advantage over smaller models in that their size allows for features such as volume control. However, the disadvantage of this is that they may also pick up external noise such as wind, which is less desirable. They can accommodate a larger battery, though, for increased battery life and so will last longer. They can also be prone to getting clogged with ear wax, due to their positioning, but this style of hearing aid provides a good source of amplification.
These are just a few of the hearing aids that your audiologist will discuss with you. While it’s good to have an idea of how they work and what options are available to suit your individual needs, remember you will work with a hearing loss expert to find the option most suitable for you. There are many additional features to consider, such as noise reduction and enhanced battery life and you don’t have to settle for the first hearing aid you try.
So, if you’re ready to experience your ‘aha!’ moment, get in touch with our team of hearing loss experts at The Hearing Doctors by calling (630) 315-2899.