Types of Hearing Aids
There are a few different types of hearing aid models that you can find. Some have different features and pros and cons, but primarily a choice between one or the other is of personal preference.
Behind-the-ear hearing aids (or BTE, also called RIC), are composed of the microphone and receiver in an encasement found behind the ear, and then a thin cable with a microphone, such as an earmold on the end that fits into the ear (though this earmold makes the hearing aid more obvious). These are easy to be cleaned and easy to use, and they are fairly sturdy. Fitting is essential to ensure there are no feedback issues.
A new version of the BTE is called the mini-BTE (also called on-the-ear), which also fits behind or on the ear, but it is smaller than the BTE. They have a thin cable that connects the encasement to the microphone. While the microphone on the mini-BTE can be an earmold as the original BTE uses, some models have an “open fit” microphone, which is a small earpiece for insertion and doesn’t require customization. The benefits of these hearing aids include: more comfort since they are smaller; a reduction in the feelings of pressure build up; reduction in feedback, and more discreetness, making them perfect for those who are conscious about wearing hearing aids.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are placed directly inside the ear. This, however, makes it more visible than other hearing aids. The battery usually lasts longer in these model types, though.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are customized so that they can properly fit inside the ear canal. While very discreet, their small size makes them hard to change settings on (though this can often by resolved by a remote), and it is difficult to change the battery. Additionally, given the small size, the microphone and speaker are so close together, and this can cause uncomfortable feedback sounds.
Finally, the smallest option is the completely-in-the-canal (CIC) aid. As you might imagine, this is the most discreet of all of them. It fits so deep inside, and it is so small, that a small wire must be pulled to get it out. Because of its size, the issues with the ITC aids are found on these models too. Finally, its small size makes it more expensive than the others.
There are also implantable hearing aids, which can be inserted surgically and non-surgically. The battery lasts a long time, and people report hearing better due to the fact that nothing is molded in the ear to block sound. They also do not have a problem with feedback, which some of the other hearing aids have problems with. (Hearing Aids-Topic Overview. (n.d.).WebMD - Better information. Better health.. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/hearing-aids-topic-overview)
When purchasing a hearing aid, you might be inclined to only buy one for one ear since that would save you money. However, while this would be fine if you are hard of hearing only in one ear, if not, it is best to get two. Specialists say that this improves the overall hearing experience, since different sounds are distinguished better, and they help the listener figure out where sounds are coming from. Furthermore, new developments are suggesting that using a hearing aid in just one ear will worsen the hearing in the other ear.
Watson, S. (n.d.). Discovery Health "Types of Hearing Aids". Discovery Health "Discovery Fit & Health". Retrieved July 10, 2013, from http://health.howstuffworks.com/medicine/modern-technology/hearing-aid2.htm
Types of Hearing Aids. (n.d.). U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from