Hearing aids have come a long way in the past few decades. What many considered to be clunky and unappealing devices in the past, are now sleek, small, and highly advanced pieces of technology. In fact, there are even “invisible” types of hearing aids that are nearly impossible for others to see. Furthermore, the size and style are not the only things that have advanced over the years, the technology itself is better than ever.
Types of Hearing Aids
When deciding what new hearing aids to choose, you may be surprised to learn just how many types of hearing aids are available today. From size and shape to extras like Bluetooth technology, hearing aids have made many advancements.
Behind the Ear Hearing Aids
Hearing aid styles are often described by how they fit. Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids, as they sound, sit primarily on the outer part of the ear. With the main piece of technology resting behind the ear, it is connected to a dome or mold that sits in the ear. The sound that the microphone receives is amplified and then is transmitted into the ear by tubing.
BTE hearing aids are typically easier to maintain as they do not collect as much ear debris and wax as other types of hearing aids. They are also easy to put on and take off.
They are commonly used for children whose ears are still growing and changing size. In this case, only the mold would have to be replaced to change the fit rather than the entire hearing device.
In the Ear Hearing Aids
In the ear (ITE) hearing aids sit entirely in the ear and can be broken down into more specific categories by their size. In the canal (ITC) and completely in the canal (CIC) devices are the two main types of ITE hearing aids. Those who prefer ITE hearing aids may do so for personal comfort or for a less visible option. CIC hearing aids are so small, they are often not seen by others.
On the other hand, ITE hearing aids are more prone to wear and tear. Because they sit entirely in the ear, debris such as ear wax can get into sensitive pieces of technology like the microphone. All hearing aids require regular cleaning and upkeep, however ITE hearing aids involve more than others.
In the past, hearing aids were all analog, today, they are mostly digital. This means that instead of amplifying all sound as an analog hearing aid would, they amplify only the frequencies each person needs and only to exact volume needed. In age-related hearing loss, the higher frequencies are typically the first to be reduced. With digital hearing aids, only those frequencies would be adjusted, leaving the sounds that are heard normally without any adjustment.
Digital hearing aids also come with many different features, some are standard on a digital device and others can be added by request. Below are just a few of the features available with digital hearing aids.
- Directional microphone– With digital hearing aids, the microphones can work to amplify the sound you are facing. For example, when having a conversation at a restaurant, the microphone amplifies only the person facing and speaking to you.
- Background noise reduction– In addition to a directional microphone, digital hearing aids offer background noise reduction as well. In the example of the restaurant above, while amplifying the person speaking to you, the devices would also reduce the noisy background sounds of a busy restaurant behind you.
- Bluetooth- Bluetooth technology is now also available in some hearing aids. It allows the user to connect to other Bluetooth devices such as smart phones and music listening devices. This would allow the user to hear phone calls or music through the hearing aid in much the same way someone using earbuds or headphones would hear.
- Rechargeable batteries– On some digital hearing aids, rechargeable batteries are an option. Saving the user on the cost of regularly replacing batteries, rechargeable batteries are charged overnight while the hearing aids are not in use.
As you can see, there are many different types and styles of hearing aids available today, make an appointment with an audiologist today to discuss what is available for you.