Hearing aids are advanced technological devices that help improve communication, increase quality of life and even prevent or delay cognitive decline. Hearing aids come in a wide variety of styles and designs to match your hearing, lifestyle and aesthetic preferences, and finding the perfect fit can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, an expert audiologist can guide you through the decision-making process.
How Hearing Aids Work
No matter the style of hearing aid, they all utilize the same basic parts to help you hear. Small microphones collect sounds from the environment, then a computer chip with an amplifier converts the incoming sound into digital code. The hearing aid is programmed to analyze and adjust sound based on your unique hearing loss, and then the amplified signals are converted back into soundwaves and delivered to your ears through little speakers called receivers.
It is important to note that while hearing aids don’t restore natural hearing, they amplify sounds to a volume you can easily hear and understand.
Hearing Aid Styles
The most popular styles of hearing aids are listed below from smallest and most discreet to largest and most powerful.
- Completely-in-canal (CIC). Fits fully inside the ear canal and is nearly invisible.
- In-the-canal (ITC). Fits partly inside the ear canal but is partly visible.
- In-the-ear (ITE). Fits in the bowl of the outer ear – may be full shell or half shell.
- Behind-the-ear (BTE). Processor and receiver fit behind the ear and a tube connects to an earmold in the ear canal.
- Receiver-in-canal (RIC). Processor fits behind the ear and a wire connects to a receiver in the ear canal.
- Open fit. Similar to BTE but the ear canal is left open for low-frequency sounds to enter naturally.
Hearing Aid Features
Each style of hearing aid comes with a variety of state-of-the-art features to improve your listening experience. Some of these features include:
- Noise reduction. Reduces background noise to help with speech understanding.
- Directional microphones. Pick up noises directly in front of you to help filter speech in background noise.
- Rechargeable batteries. Eliminates expense and waste associated with disposable batteries. Some models provide 21 hours of continuous listening after one overnight charge.
- Compatible with public induction loop systems that are often available in theaters and churches.
- Wireless connectivity. Stream music and other media from your smartphone via Bluetooth.
- Remote controls. Some devices can be controlled with a remote or smartphone controls rather than tiny buttons on the hearing aid itself.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist to talk about hearing aids, call Nevada Ear + Sinus Institute.