Life cannot be imagined without our hearing abilities; similarly, it also cannot be imagined without technology these days. The past few decades have witnessed so many evolution of innovative inventions that this generation and the next generations that are yet to come, cannot be imagined without technology.

Listening devices today have become so advanced, that now people can actually dream of rising to great heights, which he did not even imagine to do earlier with those huge hearing machines. Hearing aids are considered as the best treatments for irreversible hearing loss, as they show very good results in a majority of the cases. Also, these devices are absolutely user-friendly, with no side effects at all.

There is a wide variety of hearing aids types to choose from - some having aesthetic values, while some serving your specific purposes and your lifestyle choices. Hearing aids can be primarily categorised into two groups - Analog and Digital. While the previous analog hearing aids are microchip programmed and amplified each and every sound all the same, and did not have the capability to distinguish between different sounds; digital hearing aids on the other hand are so advanced that they can convert the sounds into digital signals and can easily identify between speech and noise, and amplifies the sound accordingly, making the hearing impaired person listen to the important sounds (in this case, speech), by reducing or cancelling out the background noises. These hearing aids types, thus, have the ability to amplify sounds in a very natural way. Natural human ear too, do not catch the unimportant sounds - your brain makes you focus only the sounds you actually want to hear.

Hearing aids can be classified based on the design of the product, the technology used in them, the features they provide and the lifestyle of the hearing impaired person. Based on the design of the device, it is divided into many types, namely - Behind-the-ear (BTE), Mini-BTE, In-the-ear (ITE), In-the-canal (ITC), Completely-in-the-canal (CIC), Receiver-in-canal (RIC) and Invisible-in-canal (IIC).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Type

Hearing Aids Types

Advantages

Disadvantages

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

  • Suitable for people of all age groups, with capability to serve individuals with hearing loss ranging from mild to profound hearing loss

  • Have fewer feedback problems

  • Rarely needs repairment

  • Worn behind the ears

  • Easily visible

  • Ear molds need to be remade every few years to make them fit properly

Mini-BTE

  • Smaller than the BTE hearing aids types

  • Suitable for people of all age groups, with mild to moderate hearing loss

  • Discreet design

  • No “plugged up” feeling

  • Worn behind the ears

  • Even being mini they are still visible

  • Harder to use with the phone

In-the-ear (ITE)

  • Fills the outer ears completely

  • Usually ideal for patients with mild to moderately severe hearing loss

  • Come with dual microphones, thus enhancing speech clarity

  • Not recommended for children as their ears are still growing

  • Open to problems with moisture and ear wax, thus requires regular cleaning

  • More prone to repairs

  • Prone to feedback problems

In-the-canal (ITC)

  • Worn in lower side of the outer ear

  • Can be easily inserted and removed

  • Good aesthetic design

  • Come with dual microphones, thus enhancing speech clarity

  • Longer battery life

  • Open to problems with moisture and ear wax, thus requires regular cleaning

  • More prone to repairs

  • Prone to feedback sounds

  • Older people find it difficult to handle such small hearing aids types

Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)

  • Sit inside the ear canal

  • Small and discreet

  • Amplify the sounds naturally

  • Perfect for people having moderate hearing loss

  • Older people find it difficult to handle such a small hearing aid

  • Again are prone to feedback sounds

  • Need repairment

  • Occlusion effect - or the feeling of talking in a bucket - is common with CIC

Receiver-in-canal (RIC)

  • Ideal for most people having any degree of hearing loss

  • Less feedback problems

  • Exceptionally discrete even for severe to profound hearing losses

  • Ear molds need to be remade

  • Harder to use with phone

Invisible-in-canal (IIC)

  • Sit deep inside the ear canal, thus making them completely invisible

  • Deliver a natural sound

  • Equipped with many powerful features, like directionality detection

  • Very comfortable to wear

  • Reduced wind noise

  • Allows natural telephone and helmet use

  • Very difficult to handle, especially for the older people

  • Occlusion issues again

  • Decreased battery life

  • Can only be controlled remotely and not via switches

  • These hearing aids types require proper maintenance and care

  • Requires good dexterity in using the device, like removing and inserting wires

  • Not suitable for people with non-standard ear canals or for children with very small ear canals

  • Very expensive

 

In a nutshell, there are a vast range of hearing aids types to choose from. You just need to consider each of their advantages and disadvantages, and above all, you need to consult an experienced Audiologist. The benefits of hearing aids have improved a lot over the last couple of years. Researchers are continuously trying to introduce more and more innovations in hearing aids types and are gradually developing them with improved hearing abilities, increased longevity, advancement of designs and many more. Hence, hearing loss is no more a problem, and it is absolutely possible for you to fight against it. However, not all people would be benefited from hearing aids, and there are other solutions for them, which will be best understood by a highly qualified Audiologist. So kindly discuss such a serious matter as your hearing health with him/her before arriving at a final conclusion, as he/she will help you in making a smart decision. It is always better to be late than taking a wrong decision for which you will have to regret forever.