All About Hearing Aids
Types and Styles of Hearing Aids
Work with an audiologist to figure out which kind of hearing aid will work best for you, as well as any special features you need. The right device for you depends on:
- The type of hearing loss you have and how severe it is
- Your age
- How well you can manage small devices
- Your lifestyle
- Cost. The devices vary greatly in price, from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
There are two main types of hearing aids:
Analog hearing aids convert sound waves into electrical signals and then make them louder. They’re usually less expensive and have simple volume controls.
Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into numerical codes similar to computer codes, then amplify them. The code includes information about the direction of a sound and its pitch or volume. That makes it easier to adjust the sound to what you need, whether you’re in a restaurant, a quiet room, or a stadium. Most will adjust automatically. Although this type costs more than an analog hearing aid, the results are much better. They’re also smaller and more powerful.
There are three main styles of hearing aids. They differ in size, placement in or on the ear, and how well they make sound louder:
Canal hearing aids fit inside your ear and are harder to see. An in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid fits your specific ear canal. A completely-in-canal (CIC) aid is smaller and nearly hidden in your ear. Either type can help mild to moderately severe hearing loss. But because of their size, they can be harder to adjust and remove. This style of hearing aid isn’t ideal for children or adults who might have problems with very small devices. An invisible-in-canal (IIC) aid is nearly impossible for others to see. You may put it in every day, or it may be a device you wear for several months at a time.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely inside your outer ear. They have a hard plastic case that holds the electronics. They’re best for people with mild to severe hearing loss, but they don’t work as well for children whose ears are still growing.