Types of hearing aids

 

BEHIND-THE-EAR (BTE) hearing aids are a style of hearing aid that rests over the ear. Currently, there are several versions available.BTE Hearing AidBTE Hearing Aid2

  • The newest are OPEN-Fit hearing aids; a very small tube extends from the hearing aid into the ear canal to channel the sound into your ear.  A non-occluding tip is placed at the end of the tube to help seat the tube into your ear canal.  This type of BTE aid is the least noticeable.
  • BTE aids come in several sizes, from MICRO BTEs, to STANDARD, to POWER BTEs.
  • BTE aids come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and patterns.
  • Micro-BTEs typically take size 10, size 312 or size 13 batteries.
  • Power-BTEs typically take size 13 or size 675 batteries.
  • Size 13 batteries and size 675 batteries typically have the longest battery life; two-weeks or more.
  • Micro-BTEs typically fit mild to severe hearing losses.
  • Some models come with WATER RESISTANT housings for those with active lifestyles.
  • Most BTEs can interface with new technology such as FM, Bluetooth, T-Coil and Infra-red systems.
  • BTE styles are most often the type of hearing aid recommended for all ages because they are durable and the ear mold can be remade as the patients’ ear grows without having to purchase a new hearing aid each time. 

Pros:

  1. provides the most power, allowing for more adjustments if hearing becomes worse.
  2. it is easier for some people to see the batteries and use this hearing aid if they have poor vision or poor feeling in their finger tips.
  3. if excessive wax or outer ear infections tend to be a problem, this hearing aid is not housed in the ear so the working parts are not damaged by the substances. The ear mold can be disconnected from the hearing aid and washed.

Cons:

  1. this hearing aid could be the most visible to others (open fit hearing aids are virtually invisible and can solve this situation).
  2. wind noise can be more audible with this hearing aid (some hearing aids have screens over the microphones and wind noise reduction programming that will eliminate this problem).
  3. this hearing aid may feedback (whistle) if a brimmed hat is worn (digital feedback suppression in new hearing aids will eliminate this problem).

 

IN-THE-EAR (ITE, full shell) hearing aids are those devices that fill up the entire bowl of the ear. This instrument can have one of two battery sizes, depending on the size of the ear. The first type is the taller of the two (size 13) and has a life of roughly three weeks. The second battery type is shorter in size (size 312) and has a life of 2 to 3 weeks.In-the-Ear Hearing Aidin the ear

Pros:

  1. provides less power than the BTE style, but is the most powerful hearing aid that is contained in the ear
  2. longest lasting battery for hearing aids that fit into the ear
  3. there are features available on this hearing aid that are not available on all in-the-ear instruments 

Cons:

  1. wind noise can still be a consideration
  2. can become clogged with wax, that can affect the working parts of the hearing aid
  3. it can sometimes be more difficult to tell the left hearing aid from the right one (as is the case with the styles that fit into the ear).

IN-THE-CANAL (ITC, half shell) hearing aids are those devices that fill up the opening (canal) portion of the ear and extend slightly into the bowl portion of the ear. This instrument generally has one battery size (size 312) and the average battery life is roughly one to two weeks.in-the-canalin-the-canal-courtesy-of-phonak

Pros:

  1. wind noise is reduced with this size of hearing aid
  2. less visible to others when in the ear
  3. easier to see and manipulate while providing some cosmetic appeal 

Cons:

  1. reduced power, making this not strong enough for some hearing losses and there is less room to make changes if hearing becomes worse
  2. less control over the instrument by the wearer (ex. volume control may not be available)
  3. not available to all individuals based on ear canal size.

COMPLETELY-IN-THE-CANAL (CIC) hearing aids are those devices that fit entirely in the ear and cannot be seen. These devices can use one of two battery types. The first is the larger of the two (size 10) and has a life of roughly a week. The second battery type (size 5) is very small and has a life of roughly a week or less. These hearing aids are removed from the ear by pulling on a small string that resembles fishing line.

Pros:

  1. cannot be seen by others
  2. can help keep moisture in the ear, for those that my suffer from dry ear canals
  3. the hearing instrument can be made in a color (red for the right ear and blue for the left ear) so that it is easier to tell in which ear the device belongs.

Cons:

  1. this device has a limited range of power that is not available to all people and has less of a range to make adjustments if the hearing becomes worse
  2. if there are problems with jaw popping, the hearing aid may “walk out” of your ear, creating feedback (whistling) or an uncomfortable fit in the ear
  3. the wearer does not have control over the volume of the hearing aid.

INVISIBLE-IN-CANAL (IIC) hearing aids are those devices that fit farther into the canal than the CIC style.   These devices use an extended life battery or a size 10 battery, which generally last one to two weeks.In-the-Canal Hearing Aidinvisible in the ear canal

Pros:

  1. wind noise is significantly reduced
  2. not noticeable to those around the wearer
  3. takes advantage of the ear’s natural ability to funnel sound into the ear 

Cons:

  1. less powerful than a hearing aid with a larger battery, also less room to make adjustments if hearing changes
  2. not available to all people based on the size of the ear canal
  3. more likely to be affected by wax and moisture in the ear.