Hearing Aid Styles Explained
Hi, I’m Dr. Egan at Now Hear This®, and today I’d like to talk to you about the different kinds of hearing aids and why people end up with different kinds of hearing aid styles. The styles of hearing aids range in many different options. There are the ones that go behind the ear like this. There are ones that go in the ear, different types of sizes and colors of ones that go in the ear, and there are really big ones that go behind the ear.
The two factors that go into which style you end up with are the degree of hearing loss, and configuration of hearing loss. So, how much hearing loss you have and in what pitches. And your lifestyle needs. So, how important is the visibility of the hearing aid, do you have dexterity concerns, is it really important to you that the hearing aid is secure on your ear during physical exercise? And so, as I go through these hearing aids, I’ll give you some examples of why one hearing aid style or another is a good fit for someone or not.
The most common style of hearing aid is this behind-the-ear little guy like this. It’s called a RIC. And this little piece goes behind the ear, and this piece, this little rubber tip, goes in the ear. And this is truly the most popular style across the board, because it fits the widest ranges of types and degrees of hearing loss. Because this part is behind the ear, it allows for the most different and advanced features to be fit inside the hearing aid. So, things like Bluetooth streaming, directional microphones, all these extra features that can really help someone on their day-to-day. So, that’s why the RIC is the most common style that we tend to see.
Another popular style is the in-the-ear style, and this is a little itty bitty one. The in-the-ear hearing aids are great, and they can be the right thing for some folks. With the configuration of their hearing loss, if they have enough hearing loss in the low pitches it can be a better fit for them. People who hear really well in the low pitches don’t always like the sound quality of the in-the-ear hearing aids. And in-the-ear hearing aids come down to what sorts of additional features you need. This little guy can’t fit Bluetooth, so if you’re someone who is on the phone all day doing work calls, I don’t know if I’d recommend this for you. But, you know, I had a patient in the past that was a helicopter pilot who needed something tiny to wear under his headset, so it was a really good fit for him. So, that’s where, you know, you juggle the expertise of the audiologist of what the patient needs and what their hearing loss is and tries to find the perfect fit for that.
There are also bigger in-the-ear hearing aids. This one here is a little bit bigger, but the nice thing about it is that it is rechargeable. So, that’s another factor you have to consider. How important is using rechargeable batteries or, you know, do you have the dexterity to change a tiny little battery. So, we work through those things when we are debating the different styles.
This bigger in-the-ear hearing aid here, I use most commonly on someone who has severe hearing loss, who has difficulty with dexterity, because there are more anchor points for them to push their finger in to get the hearing aid nice and secure and snug in their ear.
And then of course, there’s this big hearing aid, the BTE, and this most commonly comes with a custom earmold that’s molded to the shape of their ear. This is really used for severe to profound hearing loss, where we need lots of power in the sound going into the ear canal and where we need a custom fitting earmold to trap all the possible sound in the ear. So, I would say that this is probably out least common style in the clinic. Although, we do have plenty of people who have severe to profound loss who are really successful with this style.
I hope that you learned a little bit about the different styles of hearing aids and why one might be better or worse for different people. You know, it all comes down to no two snowflakes are alike. And that’s what we really strive to do in our clinic is to find the perfect match for each person. Have a wonderful day and reach out if you have any questions!