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What are the Different Hearing Aid Types?

Article Details
  • Written By: Ron Marr
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2020
    Conjecture Corporation
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Hearing loss, often a part of the human aging process, can be frustrating both for the afflicted individual and those who surround him. Unfortunately, many of the hearing impaired are hesitant to even consider wearing a hearing aid. Perhaps this trepidation stems from a realization that the days of youth have passed. Perhaps it stems from a bit of vanity, and memories of seeing the bulky, behind-the-ear aids that were once the standard. However, there are now a wide variety of hearing aid types, many of which are barely noticeable.

For starters, modern hearing aids come in either analog or digital form. Analog models, which are typically cheaper than digital, transform sound waves into electrical impulses and amplify them. Usually, they can either be programmed to a certain degree of amplification, or have a control that allows the user to adjust the power setting. For instance, the user can change amplification settings, depending upon if he is in his quiet living room or in a crowded restaurant.

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Digital hearing aids, on the other hand, convert sound waves to a binary code prior to amplification. This code is basically the same as exists within a computer, and a digital hearing aid will determine whether sounds are too loud or too soft for the user. Digital hearing aid types will then either raise of lower the volume, helping the user to hear in consistent tones. There are neither overwhelming blasts of noise nor the sense that everyone in the room is whispering.

The least obtrusive of hearing aid types are the Completely-In-The-Canal (CIC) models. These aids are designed to fit inside the ear canal and are suitable for those with mild hearing loss. The CIC aids are virtually invisible, but use tiny batteries that tend to run down with surprising frequency. CICs have only one volume level, and typically cannot be adjusted.

Two other hearing aid types are the In-The-Canal (ITC) and the In-The-Ear (ITE) versions. The ITC is molded to fit partially in the ear canal, and extends slightly into the outer ear. Like the CIC, it is designed for those with mild hearing loss, however it does often offer volume controls. The downside is that the tiny controls are difficult to adjust, and again, battery power is quickly depleted.

ITE hearing aid types come in either the half-shell or full-shell variety. Both of these aids are geared toward those whose hearing loss is moderate or severe. The half-shell fills the lower part of the outer ear and may feature directional microphones and volume controls. It is visible to others, but on a positive note the controls are relatively easy to operate and battery duration is good. The full-shell hearing aid takes up the entire area of the outer ear, and is basically a more powerful version of the half-shell.

Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids still exist, and are most commonly utilized by those with severe hearing loss. Consisting of two parts, the section of the BTE that hangs behind the ear amplifies sound. It then transfers the sound to a mold that fits in the ear canal. BTEs are large and quite noticeable, but they can be crafted to match different hair colors and skin tones.

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