What is a Hearing Aid?
A hearing aid is a small, battery-operated communication device that is worn either behind, or in, the ear to improve hearing.
Hearing aids allow a person with hearing loss to listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. Even outdoor activities such as golf, baseball, and other sports can be more enjoyable with the use of hearing aids.
Styles of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are selected for each patient based upon their degree of hearing loss, lifestyles, financial concerns and communication needs. With newer hearing aid technologies, many manufacturers have Bluetooth technology to help with communication options. The Bluetooth accessories can be paired with electronic equipment such as a cell phone, TV or gaming device. These accessories can also help more with directionality of the person’s voice over the challenging noises of a restaurant, classroom, church, etc..
RIC: Receiver-in-the-Canal hearing aids use tiny casing and a nearly invisible slim tube. This style of hearing aid offers a cosmetically appealing option. They are lightweight and tiny, with a transparent dome that makes them less noticeable than aids with custom ear molds. Patients with varying degrees of hearing loss, from mild-to-profound, can benefit from the use of RIC hearing aids. This is the most commonly fit hearing aid used by audiologists because of the flexibility and patient satisfaction.
BTE: Behind-The-Ear hearing aids have the most circuit options and typically have more power than any of the custom made in-the-ear aids. Therefore, they are best suited for most patients, and particularly those with a greater degree of hearing loss. BTEs “sit” on the back of your ear. They are connected to custom-made ear molds. These aids can now be fitted with an invisible slim tubing as well as traditional tubing.
ITE: In-The-Ear hearing aids are more visible and the easiest to handle of the custom made aids. They have a longer battery life than completely-in-the-canal aids.
ITC: In-The-Canal hearing aids are slightly more visible than ITEs. They require good dexterity to control the volume wheels and other controls on the faceplate, if applicable.
CIC: Completely-In-the-Canal hearing aids usually require a “removal string” due to their small size and their deep fit into the ear canal. CICs do not usually have manual controls because they are too small. CIC hearing aids have the shortest battery life.
BAHA: Bone Anchored Hearing Aid
Bone Anchored hearing aid (also referred to as BAHA): This style of device has been surgically placed by the ENT physician and is located behind the ear. Sound waves are picked up by the bone anchored hearing aid processor. These signals are processed by the computer chip of the device, which are digitally analyzed. Vibrations then send the sounds from the processor to the implant by means of a small magnet (or post/abutment). The sound is sent through the bone bypassing the outer and middle ear to send the signal to the inner ear.
Wireless/Bluetooth Communication Options for the Phone, TV or Loud Group Environments
Our different hearing aid manufacturers have made communication over the phone, in classrooms, watching TV, and listening in large group settings easier for those with hearing loss. These different devices are used wirelessly to send incoming sound to the patient’s individual hearing aids.
See Dr. Brooke Casey for further information or details on each of these devices.