Hearing aids are devices that amplify any sound and make it audible to hearing impaired persons. These devices deliver the amplified sound directly to the person’s ear. There are many types of hearing aids that vary in size starting from the larger ones to extremely smaller ones which remain almost invisible. With the advancement of technology, hearing aids are not only diminishing in size, but are also evolving with more and more features that give specific and even customized facilities. The design of different types of hearing aids is also improving gradually starting from sleek ones to extremely trendy ones, hence, opening up many options for the patients to choose according to their specific preferences. Some devices are extremely hassle-free and are very comfortable to wear. These hearing aids also cater to the specific needs of the patients based on their lifestyle, personality, psychology and the overall health standard of the person. Studies have shown that a majority of the people worldwide who are using hearing aid devices, are extremely happy with the experience and they are not deprived of leading a normal life.
Different types of hearing aids serve different functions depending on the type or degree of the hearing impairment that one is suffering from. These devices are used mainly to treat one of the major types of hearing loss, namely sensorineural hearing loss. Also, these hearing aids are prescribed based on the degree of hearing loss, which range from mild, moderate, severe and profound. The devices are fitted in the patient’s ear after an examination of the type and degree of hearing impairment, done by the audiologists. The outcome of a hearing aid device can be represented by three main dimensions, namely, the usage of the device, aided speech recognition and the benefits or advantages of the device.
There are a great many advantages of various types of hearing aids starting from an enhanced hearing ability; regulation of sound according to the changing environment situations (as found in the Analogue devices), including conversing via telephones; to fitting completely inside the ear canal so as to hide it completely. Other customized features based on the individual needs of the patient are also available along with the availability of various styles and sleek designs that have an appealing look, and most importantly, these are available in a wide range of prices starting from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 2.5 lakhs (in India). Hence, the person suffering from hearing loss should worry neither about the fact that it might look odd wearing a hearing aid, nor about its cost.
Types of hearing aids can be classified based on the design, the technology used, the features they provide and the lifestyle of the hearing impaired person. Based on the design of the device, it comes in various types, like, behind-the-ear (BTE), mini-BTE, in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-the-canal (CIC), invisible-in-canal (IIC). The technology based hearing aids are of two types, namely, the Analogue, which are microchip programmed, and the Digital, which convert sound waves to digital signals. Based on the various features that the hearing aids provide, most hearing aids are equipped with the directional microphone, the direct audio input, the T-coil or telephone switch, and the feedback suppression. According to lifestyle differences mainly the simple, social, outdoor and vibrant ones, these are divided into various other types that serve the specific requirements and choices of the patients. Some other common forms of hearing aids used earlier were the vacuum tube, transistor body-worn, extended wear, bone-anchored and the eyeglass hearing aids. Also, there is another special kind of hearing aid that is built into the stethoscopes of medical practitioners who are suffering from hearing disabilities. These types of hearing aids are battery operated with either changeable ones which run for a long period depending on its quality, or rechargeable ones, with good battery backups.
With the advancement of technology, hearing aids are gradually developing with improved hearing abilities, increased longevity, advancement of designs and facilities and many more. Hence, hearing loss is no more a problem, and one should not shy away from acquiring a hearing aid.