Hearing Aids: Types and Brands Worth Buying

Which Hearing Aid is Best for Me

The best hearing aid for any individual user is going to be one that is properly selected, properly fitted, and properly used with the appropriate follow-up care. Knowing which hearing device configuration will best suit your type of hearing loss is the key to a successful experience. Every hearing aid basically works in the same way, having fairly similar components. A few of these are as follows:

Hearing aids worth buying
Hearing aids worth buying | Source
  • A microphone that will pick up the sound waves
  • An amplifier to give the sound waves more volume
  • A tiny loudspeaker (receiver) that transports the amplified sound waves to the ear
  • Batteries (sometimes rechargeable, most of the time not) to power the device

Some hearing aids also have earmolds1 that direct the amplified sound into the ear, improve the quality of this sound, and aid in keeping the device safely in the ear.

1Earmold couples the sound from your hearing aid to your ear. It is the molded shape of the container that holds your hearing device. It can be in the canal, behind the ear, or any other style that suits your hearing requirements.

Styles and Options Available in Modern Hearing Aids

Hearing aids differ in how they are designed, the circuitry they use (analog or digital), how powerful they are, how easy they are to handle, and in the availability of special features. When you consult with your hearing aid provider you need to thoroughly discuss which styles and options will work the best for your hearing needs and situations.

Types of Hearing Aids Used Today

In the Ear (ITE)

In the ear hearing aids fit to the contour of the outer ear, with part of it going into the ear canal. They are a little more bulky and thus visible than are canal devices. These can be used by those who have a mild to moderately-severe hearing loss. Can come with a telecoil2.

Behind the Ear (BTE)

Behind the ear hearing aids fit snugly behind the ear and are coupled to a custom-made earmold. This style of device is good for the entire spectrum of hearing losses. Can come with a telecoil.

2Telcoils are a device used to help those who have difficulty hearing when using the telephone. Hearing aids with a T-switch (telecoil) have access to several assistive technologies that improve telephone communication.

In the Canal (ITC)

In the canal hearing aids are encapsulated inside a miniature case that fits into the ear canal itself. If you hear well on the phone and your hearing loss in minimal, this might be a good choice for you to consider. But, if you have difficulty handling small objects or struggle with finger coordination, you should probably think about a different style. These generally have an automatic sound level, so no volume control is provided, and usually no telecoil.

Completely in the Canal (CIC)

Almost all modern Completely in the canal hearing aids that are sold today are programmable or digital. This style of hearing device is becoming more popular by the day. This is because it offers an aesthetic appeal—it's difficult to detect when placed in the ear canal. It can also be used for a broad range of hearing difficulties, mild to severe.

What You Think Really Does Matter!

If hearing loss were to effect you, which hearing aid style would you choose?

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CROS and BICROS

Contralateral Routing of Signal (CROS) and Bilateral Routing of Signals (BICROS) are devices that transmit sound from a microphone located next to an ear that is nonfunctional or unaidable to a receiver located on the other ear. A CROS aid is used when the better functioning ear has almost normal hearing; a BICROS aid gets used when both ears need amplification.

Body Worn

Body worn hearing aids are super powerful devices, and are also quite large. They are used where a severe hearing loss is incurred. The microphone and amplifiers are encapsulated in a casing that gets worn on the belt, in a pocket, or wherever it fits. It has a cord that runs from the case to the receiver, usually along to the neck. The receiver is snapped into an earmold with wires coming out of the it. You don't see this style of bulky hearing aid very much these days.

Programmable and Digital

Programmable and Digital hearing aids are pretty much "minicomputers" that are incredibly high-tech. They can be programmed to assess your hearing amplification needs, and even remember how you hear best in a particular situation. These devices gather signals, turn them into binary information, and manipulate this information according to the users hearing needs.

Disposable

Disposable hearing aids are designed for users who don't actually wear a regular hearing aid because they only have a mild to moderate hearing loss. This style lasts about a month and a half, with the daily use averaging twelve hours. The hearing specialist will determine which program will work best for the user. This device is actually thrown away when the battery runs out.

Implantable

Implantable hearing aids send sound directly to one of the middle ear bones (the incus). It has two sections, the part that goes inside, which is surgically implanted. The second part is on the outside which holds the microphone and electronics of the hearing aid. The two parts are joined by magnets. This style of device works best for users who can't tolerate an earmold in the ear canal for some reason.

A BAHA hearing aid has a titanium screw implanted into the mastoid process. It transmits vibrations through the skull bone directly to the cochlea.
A BAHA hearing aid has a titanium screw implanted into the mastoid process. It transmits vibrations through the skull bone directly to the cochlea. | Source

Bone Anchored (BAHA)

Bone anchored hearing aids are used for those who have a conductive hearing loss, or mixed hearing loss. The usual user has a middle ear dysfunction which did not get better following surgery, or those who have congenital facio-cranial conditions. A screw made from titanium gets placed into the mastoid process (see image at right). This screw is vibrated by a specially designed hearing aid connection, which in turn transmits through the skull bone directly to the cochlea (the snail-shell like structure of the inner ear).

Binaural

Binaural hearing aids are used when a user has a hearing loss in both ears, in which case a bianura fitting (two hearing aids) would be required. This two device set-up has some very helpful features in that it improves hearing in noisy places as well as helps the user to define from which direction a sounds is originating. Make sure to check the return policy for this type of hearing aid, some users can't tolerate wearing two devices.

For more information on Hearing Loops, go to: aipathome.com
For more information on Hearing Loops, go to: aipathome.com | Source

4 Hearing Aid Special Options

When researching a hearing aid, there are a few options to learn, here are the four primary options to consider:

1). T-Switch (Telecoil): These have a switch that allows you to change from microphone (M) or telecoil (T). Some have a single M-T-switch that triggers the telecoil and microphone at the same time. Hearing aides that have the T-switch should cost about the same as others, just make sure to request it early; when you are testing for or buying a device. All devices (excluding the teeny-tiny CIC) can include this option. This option is great because it allows the user to be feedback free when using the phone or assistive equipment. It also helps the user focus on hearing speech in noisy places.

2). Direct Audio Input: Some BTE, and the majority of CIC, ITC, and ITE aids can't accept direct audio input. But several behind the ear hearing devices are designed specifically to accept direct audio input. An adapter boot connects the hearing aide receiver to an assistive listening device, TV, stereo, or any external microphone using wires. This bypasses the hearing aids microphone for improved noise reduction (making speech easier to hear in noisy environments).

3). Directional Microphones: This option is really effective when used in difficult listening situations, like in large group settings. This hearing aid option reduces the amount of amplification a user experiences from behind, while the directional microphone dials-in on speech signals coming front in front. The directional microphone is the key to this device.

4). Ear-Level Personal FM Receiver:

This is an FM receiver that is fit into a behind the ear type hearing aid case. It can be used as an FM receiver or as a hearing aid. The FM receiver is designed into an audio adapter that is attached (clipped on to) the hearing aid, remaining locked in place until the user chooses to remove it (has a quick releases). This gives the user the freedom of no body-worn receiver.

AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY IN DIGITAL HEARING AIDS (Incuding range of cost)

(click column header to sort results)
FEATURE  
BASIC  
ADVANCED  
PREMIUM  
MULTIPLE PROGRAMS WITH AUTOMATIC SWITCHING:
For limited noise exposure
For slightly more active user; reacts more quickly
For every active user; reacts quickly to a multitude of listening environments
Recognizes the type of listening situation and automatically switches to the best listening program. More programs with higher level of technology.
 
 
 
DIGITAL NOISE REDUCTION:
Limited noise reduction; designed for home use
More active noise reduction; noise reduction in multiple frequencies
Advanced noise reduction; multiple band frequency suppression and enhancement of speech in noise
Improves hearing by reducing background noise. Degree of noise reduction varies with level of technology.
 
 
 
DIRECTIONAL MICROPHONES:
Basic broadband directionality; typically only "in front" pattern
Multi-frequency adaptive directionality; directional feature frequency dependent
Multi-frequency adaptive and "zoom" control; allows user to determine direction of hearing
Microphones focus on the desired sound source. The microphones can automatically adapt their zoom pattern, allowing you to hear in noisy situations
 
 
 
FEEDBACK REDUCTION:
Basic feedback reduction
Advanced feedback reduction
Advanced feedback reduction
Controls annoying Shrieking sound caused by sound leaking out and getting reamplified.
 
 
 
VOLUME LEARNING:
Not available
Yes
Yes
The hearing aid remembers the manual volume changes you made depending on the situation. Over time, the hearing aid uses this information to adjust the volume automatically.
 
 
 
DATA LOGGING:
Limited
Yes
Yes
Provides an electronic record of hearing aid use, such as number of hours worn and type of sounds to which a user has been exposed. This helps a hearing specialist fine-tune your hearing aid for your specific needs.
 
 
 
WIRELESS COUPLING:
Yes
Yes
Yes
For those who use two hearing aids, this feature allows the two hearing aids to "talk" to each other and work in unison.
 
 
 
WIND NOISE CONTROL:
No or very little
Yes
Yes
Reduces the effects of wind noise on microphones. Useful feature for users who spend a significant amount of time outdoors.
 
 
 
ECHO CONTROL:
No
No
No
Reduces the negative effects that an echo has on speech perception.
 
 
 
WIRELESS BLUETOOTH CAPABILITY:
On some models
Yes
Yes
Allows the hearing aid to be connected wirelessly to cell phones, MP3 players, and other audio devices.
 
 
 
RANGE OF COST PER HEARING AID:
$1,300 - $1,800
$1,800 - $3,000
$3,000 - $6,000
Information derived from William M. Luxford, MD., M. J. Derebery, Md, and K.I.Berliner, Ph.D.

4 Top Hearing Aid Brands Worth Buying

  • Siemens Aquaris™ - Totally waterproof, manufacturer states this device can be submerged up to 3 feet for 30 minutes without harming its function. Very durable, and designed for effectiveness along with a comfortable fit.
  • Phonak Naida and Nios MicroS - State of the art devices. Maximum hearing performance in a minimum size device. Can be helpful with any degree of hearing loss.
  • Siemens Pure® - "Pure" discretion. These devices are very tiny, but pack super modern technology into the tiny hearing aid. The newest addition to the Pure family is the Pure Carot, which has a longer (rechargeable) battery life and is a particularly tiny in-canal-receiver hearing aid.
  • ReSound Alera - Automatically adjusts to the noise level around you, and they come with wireless connectivity options. Easy plug and play devices with truly wireless operation.

How to Choose, Fit and the Functionality of Hearing Aids

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Comments for "Hearing Aids: Types and Brands Worth Buying" 11 comments

Barry Bowman 3 years ago

Where in Manila can I find someone who can adjust the RESOUND hearing aids


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California Author

Simone~ Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the article. I have lived with (by proxy) hearing aids for many years as my da' has a hearing imparement that requires the devces. His struggle would be far more difficult without them! The new programmabale devces are like having a tiny computer attached to your ear; fasinating little feats of engineering and technology!

I sure appreciate that you found time in your busy schedule to make it by, I am honored.

HubHugs~


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California Author

Cardisa! I am thrilled to see you made it by today! Thanks for your remarks, you never know when you will meet someone who needs a little hearing aid information! ;)

HubHugs Ma'am; Nemaste~


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California Author

prasetio30~ Thank you for leaving your comments. I am grateful that you approve of the hubs usefulness. Hope your weekend was wonderful!

HubHugs~


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California Author

CASE1WORKER~ I agree, the more money someone has to spend, the greater level of hearing assistive technology can be provided. My father agrees with you that nothing is as good as naturally good hearing, but he finds the hearing devices a very acceptable comparison. It must be quite frustrating in high volume environments, to say the least. I appreciate that you shared your story here!

Cheers~


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California Author

Chi chin~ My father uses two hearing aids and has for 30 years. When he first got them, they would squeak pretty loud on occasion. I never knew the cause until years later; it was feedback noise. These days he has more modern devices that suit his hearing needs much better. Thank you for stopping by today! I really enjoyed your hub on Macular Degeneration, very well presented.

Cheers~


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

Because I have never had a need for hearing aids, I've never taken the time to learn about them, so this overview taught me a bunch of new things! I didn't know there were types of hearing aids that actually sat inside the canal. Fascinating. And your table is so useful! Thanks for putting together the great overview and reference guide.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

Wow, I learned a lot from this hub. I know nothing about hearing aids and I don't really know anyone who wears one but it was interesting to learn of the different types.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very useful information. We should be careful to choose hearing aids and you came up with solution. Thank you very much for writing and share with us. Rated up and useful,

Prasetio


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

Excellent summary of the hearing aids available- there is now so much choice; especially if you have a wad of $ in your pocket- I bought mine 5 years ago as state of the art and now its so behind the times- The bottom ine is that although they help enormously they are not as good as normal hearing!

Voted up and awesome


Chin chin profile image

Chin chin 4 years ago from Philippines

My father is 75 and I'm glad that he's still hearing all right and does not need a hearing aid. Though sometimes, he misses a few words here and there.

Great work on this hub!

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