Your guide to Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are one of the most significant medical aids in the healthcare industry, providing help for millions of people every year. While we think of it as a relatively modern invention, the first was actually created in the 17th century in the form of the Metal Ear, a horn-shaped ear trumpet that was to be held to the ear wen one wished to hear the conversation. Today, those with hearing problems can opt to have undetectable “invisible” hearing aids, which not only amplify sound but transport it directly to the inner ear, bypassing parts of the ear that no longer work.
For those experiencing hearing loss, the number of options available can be overwhelming, so with the help of hearing experts Amplifon we’ve put together a guide to the common types you may be offered should you start to experience problems.
What is a hearing aid?
A hearing aid is a small, usually very discreet device worn in and sometimes around the ear. They are made up of four basic components: a microphone, a loudspeaker, an amplifier, and a battery. The vast majority of modern hearing aids can pick up differences in volume, distinguish between sounds that are close and those that are far away, and even work with telephones. They are suitable for most people with hearing impairments, although they may not be suitable for those with profound hearing loss.
What’s the difference in hearing aids?
There are many hearing aids of different shapes, sizes, and abilities, depending on your requirements and the decision of your hearing specialist. Most people in the UK now have a digital hearing aid fitted, which uses a computer chip rather than moving parts to process sounds. This makes it a lot easier for people who are often in varied environments, as users no longer have to turn their hearing aid up and down according to where they are.
There are two different styles of hearing aid:
Behind-the-ear (BTE): In a BTE aid, most of the working parts of the device are contained in a casing that sits behind the ear, with a tube connecting to a smaller device inside the ear. BTEs are usually chosen for people who are not used to handling small electronic devices, as they are relatively sturdy and easy to clean. They are also the top choice for children, as the different parts can be replaced as the child grows.
In recent years, “mini-BTE” aids have also been introduced, offering the same style but with much smaller parts. The tube used to connect the two devices is very thin, almost invisible, and the earpiece is tucked inside, reducing the “blocked” feeling that some hearing aid users experience, and preventing feedback. These are an excellent option for those who have cosmetic concerns about hearing aids.
In-the-ear (ITE): In an ITE aid, all parts sit inside one small casing, which is tucked into the outer ear canal. This prevents concern about the different parts of a BTE becoming tangled or damaged. In-the-canal (ITC) aids are also available, which are slightly smaller and sit further inside the ear, while completely-in-the-canal (CIC) aids are the smallest hearing aids available. While these do aid hearing and provide a considerable cosmetic advantage, their small size makes them difficult to handle for many people.