Hearing Aid Styles

Does size really matter anymore?

Yes, but not as much as you might think. These days, hearing aid size has little to do with performance, less to do with price and nothing to do with quality. To choose the most appropriate size, one has to look at the type and degree of hearing loss, required extras needed, dexterity, eyesight and personal preference.

Today, most hearing aids can be adapted to give the required amount of power. So even severe losses can be amplified with a discreet hearing aid.

So size isn’t everything?
No. Quality, performance and appropriateness should always be the main concern. It is the quality of what goes into the hearing aid, as well as how the hearing aid processes the sound, that determines the quality of the sound that comes out.

Current Hearing Aid Styles
There are a few basic sizes available:

BTE – Behind-the-Ear
RIC – Receiver-in-Canal
ITE –In-the-Ear
ITC –In-the-Canal
CIC – Completely-in-Canal
CID – Completely-in-Drawer!

BTE
A BTE hearing aid has all of the mechanics sitting on top of/behind the ear, with a tube trailing down from the top and into the ear. This is secured by a dome or an earmould in the ear itself. Remember that when you wear a hearing aid, something always has to go into your ear!

RIC
These look almost like BTEs with most of the mechanics behind the ear, but the receiver (speaker unit) of the hearing aid sits in your ear canal and is held in place by either a dome or a custom made earmould. Placing the speaker unit in the ear allows for the BTE portion to be smaller and for the sound exit point to be placed closer to the eardrum, which in turn improves the quality of sound.

ITE/ITC
These are custom made to fit each individual ear canal (ITEs sit in the canal and in the outer ear, ITCs sit in the canal).

CICs
CICs are custom made but sit inside the ear canal. We fit these when one is particularly concerned about the cosmetics of the aid and if the hearing loss is suitable.

Custom made hearing aids rely on having enough space inside the ear canal to fit all of the mechanics inside. Also, the movement of the TM-joint can cause these canal aids to work their way out of the canal causing problems like feedback and loss of sound quality.

The smaller the hearing aid, the less space there is for batteries, volume or program buttons and functional hardware. One may have to sacrifice these things when choosing a very small hearing aid. With a small or narrow ear canal, sometimes there isn’t enough space for all of the necessary components.

Remember that sometimes a hearing aid inside your ear can be even more visible than one sitting on top, often underneath your hair!

Copyright: Francis Slabber & Associates 2017

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