I know quite a few people affected by the loss of hearing. I myself required grommets when I was a child and I know quite a few friends of my children who wear hearing aids, as does my mum. If you aren't familiar with hearing aids you might not be aware that there are lots of different types. If you are suffering from loss of hearing, a possible solution could be to wear a hearing aid. Modern hearing aids are very small and discreet, and can often be worn inside your ear. There are so many different types available you'll be able to find one for you.
1. Behind-the-ear Hearing Aids
This type of hearing aid sits behind the ear and sends sound into the ear through either an ear mould or a small, soft tip which is called an open fitting. Some types of BTE hearing aids have two microphones that enable you to either listen to sounds in the general vicinity or to focus on sounds that are coming from a specific direction, which can be particularly useful in noisy environments.
Some designs are meant to make the ear moulds less visible, and some are meant to make them more noticeable.
Pros and cons of BTE hearing aids:
+ Possible to choose between a discreet or noticeable design
+ Instant Fitting
- May not suitable for severe hearing loss
- Perceived often as more 'visible'
- Larger models may interfere with glasses
Ideal for: people who want their hearing aid to fit instantly or to wear as a fashion accessory
2. Receiver in-the-canal hearing aids
Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aids look similar to BTE hearing aids, but the piece worn behind the ear is connected by a wire to a receiver (loudspeaker) within the ear canal. This means RIE hearing aids are usually less visible than BTE devices.
Pros and cons of RIE hearing aids:
+ Choice of amplification
+ Low feedback
- Risk of wax build up
- Cost of replacement receiver
Ideal for: people looking to minimise feedback in their hearing aid
3. In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids fill the outer part of the ear canal and are just visible.
The only difference between the ITC and ITEs is their size; ITC hearing aids are usually smaller than ITEs .
If a comfortable fit is achieved, ITC products can be easy to wear, and easy to put in and take out. However, even if the fit is physically comfortable within the canal, many people report feeling ‘plugged up’ with something in their ear.
Pros and cons of RIE hearing aids:
+ Easy to put in/take out
+ Cosmetic Design
+ Good with spectacles
- High maintenance
- 'Plugged up' sensation
Ideal for: people who also wear glasses.
4. Completely in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids
Completely in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids are even smaller and less visible than ITE or ITC hearing aids as they sit deep within the ear canal. A well-manufactured CIC may really be invisible, even when the ear containing the CIC is viewed side-on.
However, they may not be recommended for people with severe hearing loss or frequent ear infections.
Pros and cons of CIC hearing aids:
+ Small size
+ Almost invisible
+ Individual fitting
- Battery life
- Amplification level
- User controls
Ideal for: people who wear glasses, or who want a particularly discreet hearing aid.
5. Body-worn (BW) hearing aids
Body-worn (BW) hearing aids have a small box containing the microphone. The box can be clipped to your clothes or put inside a pocket. A cable connects the box to an earphone, which delivers sound to your ear.
Pros and cons of body worn hearing aids:
+ Battery life/cost
+ Powerful amplification
+ User controls
Ideal for: People with limited dexterity who require a high-powered hearing aid.
6. Spectacle worn hearing aids
Spectacle hearing aids, or 'hearing aid glasses', are designs where a hearing aid is built into or attached to the arms or frame of a pair of spectacles. These types of fittings are not popular because as your choice of glasses frames and hearing aid is severely restricted and when the glasses are removed, the hearing aid needs to be taken out as well.
Pros and cons of spectacle hearing aids:
+ Recommended for conductive hearing loss
+ Can offer a disguised hearing solution
- Difficult to fit
- Removing glasses removes hearing ability
Ideal for: People with poor dexterity who wear glasses all the time
I hope I have managed to enlighten you somewhat about different types of hearing aids, and if you need one yourself or know someone who uses one then this knowledge is some help.