Once you’ve decided to get a hearing aid for yourself, the next question you’re probably wondering about is what type of aid is the right one for you.
Before you buy an aid, however, it’s important you get a checkup to rule out any causes of correctable hearing loss.
It’s also advisable to consult with an audiologist to get your hearing assessed. An audiologist will be able to help you choose the right hearing aid for your needs.
Once you know what your unique needs are, look out for hearing aids with features supporting those needs. Let’s have a look at the most common hearing aid options, and what their features are.
Completely in the Canal (CIC) or Mini CIC
This hearing aid is meant for adults. It will fit snugly inside your ear canal and improve mild to moderate hearing loss. It’s the smallest as well as the least visible kind of aid, and is unlikely to pick up wind noise. It has no extra features beyond its core functions. It uses really small batteries with a shorter life, and the speaker is vulnerable to clogging by earwax.
In the Canal (ITC)
This custom molded aid fits partly in the ear canal, and is meant for adults. It improves mild to moderate hearing loss. It’s less visible than larger options, and includes more features than CIC aid. Although these features may prove difficult to adjust due to the small size of the aid and the speaker is vulnerable to clogging by earwax as well.
In the Ear (ITE)
Made for people with mild to severe hearing loss, there are two versions of this relatively visible style. One fills the full shell of your outer ear, and the other only fits a half shell. Due to the larger size, it can fit features like volume control, and is also easier to handle. Plus, the larger battery makes for a longer battery life. However, the speaker is vulnerable to clogging by earwax, and the aid may pick up more wind noise.
Behind the Ear (BTE)
Appropriate for just about any age and any type of hearing loss, this aid hooks over the top of the ear before resting behind it. The hearing aid is connected with tubing to a custom earpiece earmold to fit in your ear canal. While this is the largest hearing aid, some modern mini designs have been customized so they’re less visible. This style amplifies sound better than the others, although it may also pick up more wind noise.
Receiver in Canal (RIC) or Receiver in the Ear (RIE)
These styles are similar to a BTE hearing aid with the speaker or receiver in the canal or in the ear. The pieces are connected with a small wire instead of tubing. The behind the ear portion is smaller with these styles. The speaker for this aid is also vulnerable to clogging by earwax.
A variation of the BTE, this option keeps the ear canal relatively open. This allows low frequency sounds to naturally enter the ear, and high frequency sounds to be amplified by the aid. It’s a good option for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Plus, it doesn’t plug the ear up, so your own voice will sound better to you. While it’s less visible, it may be difficult to handle and adjust.
Additionally, you should also look out for hearing aids with the following features, if it’s relevant to your needs:
- Noise reduction
- Directional microphones
- Rechargeable batteries
- Wireless connectivity
- Remote controls
- Direct audio input
- Variable programming
- Environmental noise control
Keep looking for the best fit for you – it’s out there! If you need helping getting started, we are here to help.