• Hearing Aid Options

    A hearing aid is an electronic device that brings amplified sound to the ear. Hearing aids are helpful, but they do not restore normal hearing or eliminate background noise.

    There are several types of hearing aids. Each type offers different advantages, depending on its design, levels of amplification, and size. Hearing aids may be grouped by size and by the technology implemented.

    Hearing Aid Options By Size

    A hearing aid must be appropriate in size to be effective. Your audiologist will help you determine which size is right for you.

    • Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids are worn behind the ear and are connected to a plastic ear mold that fits inside the outer ear. The components are held in a case behind the ear. Sound travels through the ear mold into the ear. The BTE is a powerful device and is still the preferred choice in most cases. Today's BTEs are also much smaller than in the past and in many cases can be concealed by the ear and/or the hairline.  
    • Open Fit hearing aids are worn behind the ear and are connected to a wire receiver that fits into the ear canal.  The sound is processed in the behind-the-ear portion.  A small dome or mold is attached to the receiver.
    • Three other hearing aid options ranging downward in size are In-the-Ear (ITE), In-the-Canal (ITC), and Completely-in-Canal (CIC). While these are worn in the ear rather than behind the ear, they may also be less effective for people with severe hearing loss. Your audiologist will help you decide if an in-ear solution will correct your hearing problem.

    Hearing Aid Options by Technology

    Hearing aid technology has progressed over the years.  Today, digital hearing aids are the most current and advanced level of technology available.  Below is a brief description of digital hearing aids that will help you better understand the information your audiologist will discuss with you.

    Digital hearing aids have an amplifier known as a digital signal processor (DSP) which shapes and amplifies sound with the most flexibility.  These are the most current and advanced level of technology available.  A computer is used to "program" or finely tune the device to the user's hearing loss.  Programming allows the audiologist to modify the hearing aids based on changes in the patient's hearing over time or changes in listening needs.  These hearing aids provide "intelligent" amplification, meaning they amplify soft sounds more and loud sounds less.  They also feature multiple memories for different listening situations and automatic volume controls.  Digital hearing aids are capable of providing millions of calculations per second on sounds received at the microphone before they are amplified and sent to the listener, creating a "cleaner" replication of sound.  Many of the hearing aids use special noise reduction technology or microphones to improve understanding of speech when background noise is present.  Digital hearing aids are also able to reduce or eliminate feedback or whistling.

    Digital hearing aids come in four different technology levels:

    • High level
    • Mid level
    • Low level
    • Entry level

    With each increase in the level of technology, the hearing aid offers more advanced performance in difficult listening situations.

    Hearing Aid Accessories

    • Bluetooth technology is available in most hearing aids.  Bluetooth connectivity allows for the hearing aids to sync with cell phones, television, MP3 players, land line phones and any other electronic device with bluetooth capabilities.
    • FM systems can be useful for one-on-one conversations at home, in the car or in the presence of background noise.  Patients also use an FM system for better speech clarity while watching television, talking on the telephone,  listening to an MP3 player and other audio devices. 
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