Scott Marquardt, Au.D.
The Different Types of Hearing Aids and Why it’s Important You Know the Difference
Hearing aids don’t carry the same elderly stigma they used to; that’s because they’re becoming more mainstream due to their accessibility, functionality and stylish designs. In fact, hearing aids are fast becoming the new ‘spectacles’. So, with that in mind, it’s important to know your options – it’ll help you pick the one that’s just perfect for you.
A word of advice: always consult your Audiologist before making your decision, as they will be able to recommend the right hearing aid based on factors such as your level of hearing loss, aesthetic preferences, lifestyle needs and budget.
Here’s a run down of all the different types of hearing aids:
Invisible-In-Canal (IIC) – the hearing aids so tiny, no one will know you’rewearing them
Ideal for mild to moderate hearing loss, these custom-fitted aids come in a choice of colours and are inserted deeper into the ear canal than other styles, so, depending on the shape of your ear, they’re practically invisible when worn, which is a huge plus for the style-conscious wearer. For optimum comfort and hygiene, ensure you remove them daily.
Completely-In-Canal (CIC) – Only a tiny bit can be seen (but you have to really look for it)
Unlike the IICs, these aids are easily inserted and extracted from the ear canal, as thesmall “handle” peeps out the side. Custom-made and almost invisible, they come in a range of colours, and they’re a good choice for anyone with mild to moderate hearing loss that also suffers from a touch of diminished dexterity.
In-The-Canal (ITC) – Slightly more can be seen from the canal, but still discreet
Mild to mildly severe hearing loss patients will benefit from ITC hearing aidsdue to their custom-fit, skin coloured design and easy to insert, extract structure. Easily disguised as part of your natural ear, these aids are the perfect option for someone who’s hearing is diminishing at a steady pace.
In-The-Ear (ITE) – Custom fit aids that fit within the outer portion of the ear
Mildly severe to severe hearing loss patients can benefit from choosing the ITE hearing aids, as these provide maximum hearing coverage and comfort, due to their sleek design that moulds perfectly to the outer entrance of the ear canal. Available in all sorts of colours, they’re custom made and can be matched to your skin tone.
Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) – Small, discreet and quick to fit. Perfect for many first-time hearing aid wearers.
Barely visible when worn, the RIC style is an instrument in which the receiver, or speaker, is inside the ear canal. Thin electrical wires are used instead of a plastic acoustical tube, reducing distortion. RIC hearing aids provide a comfortable, open fit and are perfect for mild to moderate hearing loss.
Behind-The-Ear (BTE) – The most common hearing aid style
When you think hearing aid, the chances are you’re thinking of the BTE design. Usually worn by moderate to sever hearing loss patients, the technology is housed in the casing of these hearing aids, ensuring they rest comfortably behind the ear whilst the clear plastic acoustical tube sends the amplified sounds into a customized earmold that’s fitted inside the canal. Available in many different colours, they come with easy to use buttons and are highly discreet.
It’ll feel strange at first, but you’ll get to love them in no time
Don’t be alarmed if it takes you a little while to adjust to your new hearing aids – everyone’s different with different levels of hearing – just be patient and they’ll soon become part of the family.
Always talk to your Audiologist about what you can expect before choosing your hearing aids, they’ll be able to give you the best techniques for adjusting to them, plus advise you on their many benefits.