Hearing loss can be frustrating for the patients as well as their friends and family members. With 48 million Americans reporting some degree of hearing loss, you’re not alone if you are hard of hearing.
However, hearing loss does not have to put a stop to the activities that you enjoy or affect the quality of your social interactions. According to the Better Hearing Institute, 95% of people with sensorineural hearing loss can be helped with appropriate hearing aids.
The secret is in choosing the best hearing aids that suit your specific lifestyle needs.
Choosing the right hearing aid
Choosing a hearing aid for the first time can seem daunting. But with the different types of advanced technologies available today, it is easy to custom-design the perfect hearing aid that meets your unique lifestyle requirements.
These are some of the lifestyle factors that you need to consider:
- Do you spend more time at quiet home settings or do you have an active social life?
- Do you want to hear people better while speaking on the telephone or mobile?
- Do you want to watch your favorite TV shows without having to crank up the volume?
- Do you want to frequently listen to music, especially from a handheld device?
Choosing the best hearing aid solution depends on your degree of hearing loss, lifestyle activities, and technological and cosmetic considerations.
Different types of hearing aids
Modern hearing aids are so tiny that they are practically undetectable. Though they are small in size, they are giants in terms of their ability to enhance hearing. With sophisticated microprocessor technology and advanced algorithms that automatically make adjustments to suit the environment, hearing aids act more like human ears, allowing patients to have a comfortable listening experience no matter where they go.
Hearing aids are designed to sit inside the ear canal, the outer ear, or behind the ear.
Completely In Canal (CIC) for mild to moderate hearing loss
Completely In Canal hearing aids are worn within the ear canal and are a great choice if you value discreetness. These tiny models leverage the natural ability of the ear to collect sound and amplify it. CIC hearing aids are easy to use with telephones, and are less likely to pick up wind noise. They use very small batteries, so you need to have a good level of manual dexterity to handle them. If you want the hearing aid to be even smaller, there is the Invisible In Canal (IIC) style which offers a superior fit and sits deeper inside the ear canal, invisible to anyone else.
In The Canal (ITC) for mild to moderate hearing loss
ITC hearing aids are of medium size and fit partly outside the ear canal. These devices are not easily visible, and are easy to use with telephones. The medium size makes it easier for insertion and removal and gives it a longer battery life.
In The Ear (ITE) for mild to severe hearing loss
An ITE hearing aid fills most of your outer ear. It contains many helpful features such as volume control and is easier to adjust than the smaller models. The large size makes it more noticeable, and it may also pick up wind noise. The larger battery lasts longer and also can provide more power, making this model ideal for severe hearing loss.
Behind The Ear (BTE) for all types of hearing loss
BTE hearing aids rest directly behind the ear. They are quite sturdy and can be easily inserted, removed, and cleaned. The device connects to the ear canal with a thin transparent tube or a custom-made ear mold. BTE hearing aids are typically capable of more amplification than other styles. The smaller version of BTEs, called Mini BTEs, can provide an open fit to allow natural sound perception and do not plug the ear canal like smaller aids do.
Receiver In Ear (RIE) for all types of hearing loss
RIE is another type of Behind The Ear hearing aid. The device is really tiny, so it is barely visible on the ear. A thin, transparent tube runs from the casing to the receiver which rests in your ear canal. RIE hearing aids give you a discreet and comfortable fit, and can be customized to suit your amplification needs.
Microphone In Concha (MIC) for those who spend time outdoors
The MIC hearing aid is cleverly constructed to take advantage of the natural anatomy of the ear to provide you natural sound quality. The main part of the device hides inside the ear canal, and is designed to be virtually undetectable. The microphone is worn in the concha (curved groove of the external ear) where it remains out of sight and protected from wind noise, making this an ideal option for those who spend a lot of time outdoors.
A positive attitude is the key to finding the best hearing aid. Be willing to communicate with hearing care practitioner or audiologist, adapt to new solutions, and try not to get overly frustrated when difficulties arise. It is possible to combine multiple features and custom-design a hearing aid that is just right for you.