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Types Of Hearing Aids - Which One Is For You?

Updated on September 30, 2013

If you're suffering from varying degrees of hearing loss, what’s the best way to treat it? While there are a number of medications and therapies for treating hearing loss, one of the most common interventions is by using a “hearing aid”. A hearing aid is generally defined as a battery-operated electronic device, which makes listening so much easier for those who suffer from hearing loss. A hearing aid often consists of a microphone, amplifier and a receiver. The microphone picks up the sounds and noise in the environment, and turns them into electronic signals, and the amplifier selectively enhances or “amplifies” the electronic signals, and the receiver changes the electronic signals to sounds, and deliver these to the inner ear. Here are a number of helpful tips on how to choose the right hearing aid for you.

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Hearing Aids Come In different Shapes And Sizes

According to hearing loss experts, hearing aids come in different shapes and sizes, and they also differ in the way they are placed in the person's ear. Some hearing aids are very small, and they easily fit into the ear canal, making them very invisible. Other hearing aids partially fit in the ear canal. According to audiologists, who are experts at determining the extent of hearing loss, the smaller a hearing aid, the shorter will be its battery life. Hearing aids also vary in their overall design and circuitry, and the three common circuitry or electronic systems used for hearing aids are: Analog/Adjustable, Analog/Programmable and Digital/Programmable. (Source: Mayo Clinic)

What Are The Basic Hearing Aid Styles?

There are four basic types or styles of hearing aids used today. These include the BTE, or behind-the-ear, ITE or in-the-ear, ITC or in-the-canal and CIC or intra-canal. These four basic hearing aid styles describe where and how they fit in the ear. The three basic levels of hearing aid technology include conventional (analog), improved (analog/programmable) and advanced (fully digital and programmable). Despite the advances in hearing aid technology, most hearing loss experts still agree that even the best and most costly hearing aid will not be able to bring damaged hearing back to normal levels. However, the newer ones can easily be adjusted and programmed to compensate for some of the natural patterns of hearing loss, and also provide better clarity and flexibility, especially in difficult listening environments. (Source: Ohio State University Extension)

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Summary of Hearing Aids Style

  • BTE, or behind-the-ear
  • ITE or in-the-ear
  • ITC or in-the-canal
  • CIC or intra-canal

Who Can Help Determine The Right Hearing aid For You?

If you're at a loss as to which hearing aid variant is appropriate for you, then a visit to your doctor could be very helpful. Your doctor may refer you to a hearing loss expert or health professional, for an evaluation and a series of tests. You could be referred to an otolaryngologist (or an ear, nose, throat, head and neck expert), a hearing aid dispenser , or an audiologist. An audiologist is a trained professional who measures the extent of hearing loss, and this expert can fit and sell hearing aids. A hearing aid dispenser is authorized by the state (or county) to measure hearing,as well as fit and sell hearing aids. (Source: Federal Trade Commission)

Most health and hearing loss experts also believe that hearing loss could be a sign or symptom of an underlying medical condition or illness. A medical examination of evaluation could help reveal or uncover any illnesses or medical issues that's associated with hearing loss. In the United States, the FDA or the Food and drug Administration requires hearing aid sellers, and even audiologists, to tell their patients or customers about the need to undergo a medical evaluation or test, before they purchase any type of hearing aid.

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