Statistic showed that the hearing-impaired individuals going through different phases before accepting the fact that having the use of hearing aids can and will help improve their quality life. Generally, the questions that come to mind of the auditory impaired person “do I need a hearing aid?”, “when/where should I get a hearing aid” or “how to buy a hearing aid?”. The answers for these questions can easily provide by the hearing healthcare professionals such as an Otolaryngologist/ENT doctor or an Audiologist who has the academic experience and is fully equipped with proper tools and advanced technology testing system that can precisely measure the hearing loss condition of the patience.
However, having some basic understanding about hearing aid products, types, sizes, functions, and features can minimize the undue stress while in search for the hearing device that fits your lifestyle and budget.
What hearing aid would best fit me and my needs?
Are you actively on the hunt for a hearing aid? If so, finding the best fit type and style depends on the range of your hearing loss, your ear anatomy, your preferences/lifestyles, budget, and personal appeal. Let’s talk about the two basic types and styles of hearing aids:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
- In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
BTE devices rest behind and over the top of the outer ear with a clear thin tube that routes the sound into the ear canal via a custom-fit earmold or a disposable dome style that doesn’t block the entire ear canal opening.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
ITE devices are worn in the ear canal and are most discreet and comfortably suited the user due to its custom-fit, based on an impression that is taken by your hearing care professional at the time of your hearing consultation.
Hearing aid styles are available in different colors to match hair or skin tone, and the fashionable designs for personalized flair; different in sizes for personal preference or specific-fit, advanced functions for the technological savvy, discreet appeal such as invisible-in-the-canal (IIC), complete-in-canal (CIC), and low profile are the larger size (half-shell to full-shell with fit that fill almost the entire concha bowl of the ear) of the ITE devices; while the receiver-in the-ear (RITE), receiver-in-canal (RIC), and BTE with earmold designed for more direct powerful sound from the BTE type.
Traditional hearing aids come with standard disposable batteries that can last between several days to a couple of weeks. Good news! To all who love to join force in preserving the nature of our earthy environment, rechargeable hearing aids are becoming more common and affordable; designed by the green-earth-conscious minds, most preferred by the environmentalists.
What should I choose, BTE or ITE device?
Primarily, it depends on your hearing loss condition, your ear anatomy, and your personal preferences; either ITE or BTE hearing aids can help improve your hearing needs. Perhaps knowing more of the advantages and disadvantages will help you making the right decision in choosing the best fit devices.
BTE devices designed as an open-fit style with the sound source route to the amplifier/speaker that rest in the ear canal and the microphone sealed in the case resting behind the ear.
- Amplifier/speaker can easily replace by user or repair center without sending device back to the manufacturer (RITE/RIC)
- With ease, sound tube and ear dome can be replaced by users (standard).
- Generally, new models designed with rechargeable battery option (all styles).
- Larger size allows space for more features, more powerful, more durability (standard).
- Often built with Bluetooth and other advanced technology features (all styles).
- Most models might have telecoil options included (all styles).
- Fits all ranges of hearing loss (custom-fit earmold).
- Less prone to moisture damage (custom-fit earmold).
- Since RITE/RIC amplifier/speaker rests inside the ear canal, it is highly receptive to moisture and excessive wax damage.
- Smaller size of RITE/RIC can be a challenge for user with dexterity.
- Less discreet appearance due to the microphone case resting behind the ear (all styles; Powerful style has the least discreet view).
- Due to limited of space over the ear, it is difficult with eye-glasses user (custom-fit earmold).
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
designed to fit users with hearing loss range of mild to moderate, whose wish for a more discreet image. The styles of ITE devices can be found from CIC and IIC with the appearance of ‘Invisible-in-canal’ when completely rested in the ear. CIC is like IIC; but does not fit as deeply in the ear canal. Due to the miniature size, these devices cannot fully build with manual controls such as program button or volume dial.
- Very discreet view (IIC).
- Comfortable wearing experience from custom-fit (all styles).
- Better sound due to amplifier/speaker fitted inside the ear (all styles).
- Advanced features and manual controls (low profile & ITC).
- Highly receptive to moisture and excessive wax damage (IIC, CIC).
- Dexterity, difficult at inserting and removing device from ear (IIC, CIC).
- Often fail wireless connectivity with other smart devices (IIC, CIC)
- Occlusion, users might feel ‘stuffed/plugged’ up in their ears (all styles)
- Limited advanced features due to its compact size (IIC, CIC).
- Rechargeable is not available (all styles).
The more you know about hearing aids and its pros and cons can and will afford you the opportunity to acquire the right products that best serves your needs. It won’t be a stressful journey looking for the best fit devices if you’re properly prepare yourself with this basic knowledge and understanding.
For first-time users, it takes time to get used to wearing new hearing aids. It is highly recommended the user to continue with wearing the hearing aids every day for at least several weeks for the brain to get acclimated in learning to filter new sound again over time. The adjustment period can be tiresome; but the benefits will be worth after the adaptation period. Enjoy your quest to happier life. We hope the simple chart below can be your guide to better hearing!!