Types of hearing aid

Types of hearing aid

Prior to contacting a licensed hearing care professional, familiarizing yourself with the different types of hearing aids is helpful, especially if you’re new to the world of hearing devices. 

Around three million Canadians have some degree of hearing loss, and if you are one of them, you’ll know the impact hearing loss can have on a person’s life. Hearing aids provide an effective treatment for hearing loss and come with a multitude of features and styles to suit different hearing needs and lifestyles.

Knowing which type of hearing aid will offer the right fit for you can be challenging. That’s why we have created the guide below to help first-time hearing aid users decide which hearing aid would be the best choice for them.

Receiver-in-Canal (RIC)

The RIC hearing aid has increasingly taken the place of in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids. Designed for people with mild to severe hearing loss, it has a smaller speaker inserted directly into the ear canal. This means the sound has a shorter distance to travel from the speaker via the ear canal and eardrum. Along with a longer distance between the microphone and receiver, it provides a clear and more intact sound with less feedback.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Easy to adjust
  • Provides clear and natural sound quality
  • Open-fit style prevents occlusion (occurs when the outer ear is blocked and causes sound distortion)
  • Layered noise reduction

Cons:

  • More expensive than other types of hearing aid
  • Can be visible (generally depends on user's hairstyle)
  • Prone to damage from moisture in the ear canal

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

This traditional style of hearing aid is appropriate for a moderate to severe hearing loss. It is made up of a small hard-plastic case worn behind the ear which houses all the hearing aid components. This BTE case connects to a custom-made plastic ear mold that fits inside the outer ear.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Tough and hard-wearing
  • Easy-to-use controls
  • Relatively easy to clean and maintain
  • Delivers high levels of amplification
  • Not prone to becoming clogged with earwax
  • Requires large, long-life batteries

Cons:

  • Large device
  • Likely to be visible (although this may largely depend on hairstyle)
  • Can be uncomfortable when worn with eyeglasses
  • A tendency to pick up wind noise
  • Potential for needing new tubing every six months if using earmold

Completely-in--Canal (CIC)

These are very small and highly discreet hearing aids suitable for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. The device is inserted into the ear canal, making them almost impossible to see. CIC hearing aids have a small cord or handle attached for easy removal.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Customized to the individual’s ear size and shape
  • Small and very discreet
  • Less likely to pick up noise

Cons:

 

  • Can be difficult to remove
  • Do not contain additional features
  • May not be suitable for people with chronic external or middle ear problems
  • Requires small, short-life batteries that can be challenging to handle
  • Speaker is prone to clogging with ear wax

In-the-Canal (ITC)

ITC hearing aids are suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss and custom-molded to your inner ear canal to let sound travel through the device.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Custom made to fit your ear
  • Small and discreet
  • Includes additional features not available in CIC devices

Cons:

 

  • Its small size can make it difficult to adjust
  • Possibility of feedback if the user has severe loss
  • Potential occlusion (depends on severity and type of hearing loss)
  • Speaker is prone to earwax clogging

Invisible in the Canal (IIC)

An IIC hearing aid is designed for a mild to moderate hearing loss. Its positioned deep in the ear canal near the drum and this must be done by a hearing care professional. Lyric from Phonak is the only entirely invisible hearing aid currently available. It uses the natural structure of the ear to amplify sound to provide a complete, natural hearing experience.

Pros

Pros:

  • Tiny size
  • 100% invisible
  • No batteries needed
  • Delivers a clear and natural sound
  • Secure fit
  • Reduced occlusion
  • Improved localization
  • Can be worn for months without requiring removal
  • Less prone to picking up wind noise
  • Increase in gain and output

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Skin sensitivities may require the device to be re-fitted
  • Will require regular follow-up appointments
  • No additional features included
  • Water-resistant but not waterproof

Earlens

This unique hearing aid is appropriate for mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss. It uses a laser light that transmits power and data to a small custom-made lens in your eardrum. This technology delivers natural hearing and bridges the gap between an air-conduction hearing aid and a middle ear implant. The hearing aid’s output is personalized to each user through light calibration.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Custom-made lens
  • Superior natural sound
  • Better speech understanding in complex situations
  • Significantly less feedback and occlusion
  • Superior streamed audio sound quality
  • Extended bandwidth
  • Internal rechargeable battery and charging dock

Cons:

  • Requires normal middle ear and eardrum
  • Requires appropriately sized ear canal to accommodate the lens
  • Can take time to adjust to the lens
  • Requires BTE processor
  • The lens can only be removed by an Earlens-trained doctor

Modern hearing aids are designed to fit a broad range of hearing losses and are available in more sizes and styles than ever before. If you have noticed a change in your hearing or suspect that you may benefit from hearing aids, your next step is to schedule a consultation with a hearing care professional.

With you on your journey to better hearing.

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