What hearing aids are best for me?

Understanding the different types of hearing aids can be overwhelming. This is a simple guide to learning about the products and how to know which one is best for you. 

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Hearing Aid Technology Levels

The first thing to know is that all hearing aids have a Technology Level and a Model. The Technology Level depends on how sophisticated the circuits of the hearing aid are.

Your audiologist will recommend higher levels of technology for people with more active lifestyles. All hearing aids provide increased volume and clarity of speech, but the more advanced Technology Levels have extra tools to do so.

Some of these tools included in all hearing aids Directional Microphones that detect sound coming from a specific direction, Programmable Sound Channels that can increase volume for partial hearing loss, and Feedback Cancellation that prevents unusual sounds from being picked up by the device.


Hearing Aid Models

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Hearing Aid Models are the different sizes and styles that exist. Here is a brief overview, along with a description of when they are recommended. 

1. Behind the Ear (BTE) – The Receiver, Microphone, and Amplifier,  are inside the same device which sits behind your ear. 

Advantages – These hearing aids often have  good battery life, are the most durable, and often have the largest buttons. A good entry-level hearing aid.


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2. Receiver in Canal (RIC) – These are the newest style of hearing aids and are most like BTE models.  RIC Hearing Aids are often smaller than other models because the Receiver (speaker) actually sits inside the ear. 

Advantages – The receiver (speaker) is located on the part of the hearing aid that enters your ear, resulting in less distortion than a BTE model. 


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3. In the Ear (ITE) – These hearing aids are custom molded to your ear, and sit inside your ear. These are often matched to your skin tone, but are still quite visible.

Advantages – Durable, easy to keep track of, and effective. This type of hearing aid is simple to put in and is molded to your ear. The battery life can last as long as 16 days. 


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4. In the Canal (ITC) – These hearing aids are also custom molded to your ear, and sit inside your canal. This model is smaller than the ITE and uses a smaller battery. 

Advantages – These are very small devices that are also durable and easy to keep track of. This type of hearing aid is simple to put in and is molded to the shape of your ear canal.


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5. Completely in Canal (CIC) – These hearing aids are tiny and sit inside your ear canal. They are difficult to see, and deliver high sound quality despite their small size.

Advantages – CIC’s are nearly invisible and do not compromise sound quality. They are very small and can barely be seen!


6. Invisible in Canal (IIC) – These are the smallest available hearing aids on the market and sit past the second bend of your ear. They are invisible to the naked eye, and only you would be aware that they were present. 

Advantages – IICs are very small and due to their closer proximity to your hearing system they have comparable battery life with CIC hearing aids, despite using a lower energy battery. 

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Conclusion

We seek to answer the question, "What is a hearing aid?".

Hearing aids are small devices that allow an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist to program custom amplification levels based on a patient's hearing loss. 

To recap, all hearing aids come have a Technology Level and a Model Type. Technology Level will determine the price, extra features, and how new and cutting edge the instrument is. Model Type is determined based on your hearing loss, manual dexterity, and how discreet you want your instruments to be. 

Your Audiologist will recommend the Model that is best for your needs and you choose the Technology Level that is best for your lifestyle. Hearing Aids are meant to become a part of your daily life and it is important to work with your Audiologist to find which options are going to deliver the results you want. 

Learn More

Starkey Hearing Aids

Food and Drug Administration - Hearing Aids

Mayo Clinic - How to Choose the Right Hearing Aid


Last Updated: 11/18/2016