In this blog, we are going to outline the different types of hearing aids and explain how modern hearing aids work to help those with hearing loss.
How Many People Use Hearing Aids?
Hearing loss affects 1 in 6 adults in the UK. This means an estimated 11 million people are living with a degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss is usually categorised into four levels; normal hearing, mild hearing loss, moderate hearing loss and severe hearing loss.
Of the 11 million people with hearing loss, around 6.7 million would benefit from hearing aids, but only around 2 million actually use them.
There are several reasons why someone may not use hearing aids even though they need them. Oftentimes, it is because they don’t yet understand the benefits of hearing aids, or because they are unsure which type of hearing aid is best for them.
Also, many people still perceive hearing aids to be big, bulky and visible devices. This deters them from wearing hearing aids. But this perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Hearing aids have come a long way in recent years.
Modern hearing aids are small and discreet. Some of them fit directly into the ear canal, making them almost invisible. With modern digital hearing aids, nobody needs to know you’re wearing them!
How Do Modern Hearing Aids Work?
In the past, hearing aids could only perform basic changes to sounds. For example, they could boost sound overall or increase bass and treble sounds to help the individual hear better. In recent years, modern technology has paved the way for digital hearing aids, which are cleverly tailored to each individual.
Modern hearing aids usually have three main components: a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker. Aside from increasing the volume of incoming sounds, digital hearing aids also have premium filtering technology, allowing them to filter out surrounding noises and improve sound quality.
Most modern hearing aids can also connect directly to technological devices, such as TV’s and mobile phones, so that clear sound can be streamed straight from the device into the ear.
Different Types Of Hearing Aids
There are several different types of hearing aids available, each with its own benefits. An individual with hearing loss will choose a hearing aid that suits their specific needs and lifestyle.
Hearing aids tend to be one of two types, in-the-ear hearing aids (ITE) or behind-the-ear hearing aids (BTE). Then there are various types of in-the-ear hearing aids and various types of behind-the-ear hearing aids.
Let’s start with the in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids:
Invisible In The Canal Hearing Aids (IIC)
Invisible in the canal hearing aids are the most discreet types of hearing aids available. These tiny, digital hearing aids are custom made to fit discreetly deep within the ear canal. Once they have been placed in the ear canal, they are almost, if not completely invisible to see. So nobody has to know you are wearing them. They feature a tiny cord that enables them to be removed easily.
However, some people, particularly some elderly people, may struggle to insert, remove and adjust these hearing aids due to their small size.
Completely In The Canal Hearing Aids (CIC)
Completely in the canal hearing aids are very similar to IIC hearing aids and were the most discreet types of hearing aids available before IIC hearing aids were developed.
They are slightly larger than IIC hearing aids but are still almost completely invisible when in the ear canal. Their larger size often means they can feature a button that allows the user to manually control the settings.
Both CIC and IIC hearing aids are ideal for people with mild to moderate hearing loss and are perfect for people who want the most discreet option.
In The Canal Hearing Aids (ITC)
In the canal (ITC) hearing aids are slightly larger than both IIC and CIC hearing aids. However, they are still very discreet whilst being easier to insert and adjust. This type of hearing aids also allow space for a button to give the user manual control. Plus, they house a larger battery, meaning they have longer battery life.
In The Ear Hearing Aids
In the ear hearing airs are available as half shell and full shell hearing aids. This style of hearing aid fills the area just outside the opening of the ear. The shell is designed to fit the shape of the ear.
These are not as discreet as in-the-canal hearing aids as they can be seen from the side. However, they cannot be seen from the back, like behind-the-ear hearing aids.
In the ear hearing aids can have more features due to their larger size compared to in-the-canal hearing aids. They are also easier to handle and are ideal for people with profound hearing loss.
And then we have hearing aids that are more visible and feature components that sit behind the ear:
Behind The Ear Hearing Aids
Behind the ear hearing aids are one of the most common types of hearing aid. They feature an earmold that sits in the opening of your ear and a small plastic device that sits behind the ear. These two pieces are attached using a small, discreet plastic tube.
The larger sizes mean added features and ease of use. For example, telecoil, volume and program controls are easy to adjust. Plus, the larger battery size provides power for longer.
BTE hearing aids are robust, versatile and easy to insert and remove. They are ideal for all types of hearing loss, including severe hearing loss.
Receiver In The Canal (RIC) And Receiver In The Ear (RITE) Hearing Aids
Receiver-in-canal hearing aids and Receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids are very similar to BTE hearing aids as they also have a small plastic device sitting behind the ear.
However, the speaker or receiver is placed within the ear canal or inside the opening of the ear, making them much more discreet. The receiver is connected to the plastic device with a tiny wire. They also feel more natural for the user as they do not fill the opening to the ear.
Open Fit Hearing Aids
Open fit hearing aids work in a similar way to RIC and RITE hearing aids. The difference is they have a tiny earpiece called a dome, which sits within the entrance to the ear but does not close off the ear canal.
Aside from being less visible, open-fit hearing aids allow sound to enter the ear more naturally and allows the user to hear background noise as well as amplifying the main noise, such as a voice. These hearing aids do not require an ear mould.
Some hearing aids are available on the NHS. However, if you want a discreet hearing aid tailored to your needs and lifestyle, it is usually best to visit a private audiologist.
Get In Touch
Have a question about the different types of hearing aids? Or think you would benefit from hearing aids? Get in touch with Friel Hearing today. We offer a range of hearing services in Lancashire, including hearing assessments (at-home and in-clinic), ear wax removal and hearing aids. Friel Hearing offer a free 60 day trial on all hearing aids, so you can try your new hearing aid out before buying it!