There are various hearing aid types out there, and choosing the right auditory aids for you can affect your comfort, activities, hearing, and general quality of life. Determining the best type of hearing aid for you and your needs depends on a fewspecific factors. Amongst these factors are the shape and size of your ears, the severity of your hearing loss, the ease of handling, your personal device preferences, and whatnew hearing aid technologies are currently available. In this article, we’ll discuss how hearing aids work, the different types of hearing aids, and some ways you can determine the right type for you.
How Do Hearing Aids Work?
It’s a common myth that auditory devices such as hearing aids work as simple sound amplifiers that increase the volume of noises you perceive around you. Current auditory devices areadvanced, technologically sophisticated devices that make speech and other sounds more understandable, improving speech comprehension and filtering out background noises. When you experience a degree of hearing loss, these devices can make listening easier and take a significant amount of effort off of your brain. All hearing aids consist of a speaker, microphone, battery, computer processor, and an amplifier to provide you with better hearing.
Hearing aids amplify external sound through asystem of three parts. The microphone receives external sound, converts it into a digital signal, and sends it to the amplifier. Then, the amplifier increases the signal strength and sends the sound to the speaker. Finally, the speaker projects the heightened sound into the inner ear by way of tubing in an ear mold placed in the ear canal or a thin wire to a receiver. The reason why current hearing aids are more than just amplifiers is due to how they selectively amplify sounds. However, hearing aids operate uniquely based on the specific electronics used.
Types of Hearing Aids
Beyond knowing how hearing aids function, understanding the types and how they function can inform your decisions on which might be right for you. The available kinds include in-the-ear, in-the-canal, behind-the-ear, CROS/BiCROS, and receiver-in-the-ear.
Filling a portion of your ear or your entire ear, in-the-ear aids are ideal for people who have difficulty handling small items or dexterity issues. They are good for individuals withmild to severe hearing loss.
Fitting moredeeply in the ear canal than in-the-ear aids, in-the-canal hearing aids are usually less visible. They also have a smaller size, use smaller batteries, and can be harder to handle. Completely-in-the-canal devices fit even deeper in the ear canals for even less visibility.
Suited to fit neatly behind the ear, behind-the-ear devices are for people with manual dexterity abilities and hearing loss ranging from mild to profound. The hearing aid body attaches to thin tubing or a custom ear mold. Manual dexterity enables the user to properly insert and place the devices in their ears.
If you have minor hearing loss or normal hearing in one ear and little to no hearing in the other ear, CROS/BiCROS aids may be right for you. You wear this device on your better hearing side and an additional microphone on the worse hearing side. This placement enables you to hear on the worse side even while transmitting all sounds to the better-hearing ear. These are especially advantageous when a person is speaking on your worse hearing side.
Similar to behind-the-ear devices, receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids rest behind your ear and a receiver wire stretches from the device body, over the outer ear, and into the ear canal. Resting just inside your ear canal is a soft tip, offering a more natural sound for many users. Receiver-in-the-ear devices suit people with mild to severe hearing loss.
Determining the Right Hearing Aid Type for You
Figuring out the right type of hearing aid for you can also depend on your unique ears, your preferences, and what new technology is available that you might be interested in. The top factors that canhelp you determine the right type for you include the shape and size of your ears, severity of your hearing loss, ease of handling you would like or need, and available technology. These factors can also help you know which features you might like to take advantage of when selecting.
Ear Shape and Size
Hearing aids vary in shape, size, price, functions, focuses, and special features. You can narrow down the right ones for you by considering yourspecific ear shape and size. Consider what device shape would feel the most comfortable in your ear. Size can affect your comfort during wear, as well as smaller types often being more desirable for their minimal visibility.
Severity of Hearing Loss
Different hearing aid types are specific to different levels of hearing loss. You canfigure out your level of hearing loss more definitively through a hearing test. Many hearing care practitioners and audiologists offer hearing evaluations and screenings. A screening can tell you definitively if there’s hearing loss present, and a test can reveal the things you hear and don’t hear as well.
Ease of Handling Desires and Needs
In addition to considering your ears and precise hearing loss, you can also narrow down the choices by taking into account ease of handling. You may want or need the device to have a specific design for easy handling and operation. Do you need larger hearing aids or aids without small pieces due to low dexterity?