Hearing Loss is the inability to hear partially or totally in one or both ears. Hearing Aids are the best possible solution to combat hearing loss. What are the different types of Hearing Aids available in the market?
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Please see below for the different types of hearing aids:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) digital aids
These have an earmould or a soft tip (for open fittings) that sits inside your ear. The hearing aids rest behind your ears and a soft plastic tube connects each aid to the earmoulds or soft tips, and channels sound from the aids into your ears. Most people with NHS hearing aids have this type – they are sophisticated digital models that can be programmed in a precise way to suit your hearing loss and everyday needs.
Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) digital aids
Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) aids are a new development in hearing aid styles – the speaker (receiver) is right inside the ear canal, with a thin tube and tip similar to the open fitting. The amplification of the hearing aid does not need to be pushed through an acoustic tube to get there, so it’s free of whistling problems. RIC hearing aids typically have a very small part behind the ear and the aid is very neat and small. It allows open fittings for moderate to severe hearing loss.
In-the-ear (ITE) digital aids
In-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids have their working parts in the earmould, so the whole aid fits into your ear. The smallest CIC aids fit right inside your ear canal, where they can hardly be seen at all. They tend to need repairing more often than behind-the-ear aids and they are also more fiddly, so can be more difficult to use as the controls are smaller. If you have severe hearing loss, or very narrow ear canals, these aids will probably not be suitable for you. These types of aid are not usually available on the NHS.
Body-worn analogue hearing aids
Though not widely available anymore, partly because they are so bulky, these have a small box containing the microphone and working parts. You clip the box to your clothes or put it in your pocket. The box is connected by a lead to an earphone clipped into your earmould. Body-worn hearing aids may be more suitable for you if you have visual impairment or find it hard to use very small switches or buttons. Some models can be very powerful.
Bone conduction hearing aids
These are for people who cannot wear conventional hearing aids due to significant outer and middle ear problems that can’t be resolved and who therefore have conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss happens when sound vibrations are unable to pass freely through the outer and middle parts of your ear. Instead of sound from the hearing aid going into your ear canal, bone conduction hearing aids send sound vibrations through the skull, directly to your inner ear. This is done by wearing a headband that holds a small bone vibrator in place behind the ear. Bone conduction hearing aids tend to use analogue technology.
Another type, called a bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA), involves having an operation behind your ear to implant a permanent fixture in the bone, which removes the need for wearing a headband. A small sound processor clips onto this fixture.
CROS and BiCROS hearing aids
These are for people with hearing in one ear only. CROS (‘contralateral routing of signals’) hearing aids pick up the sound from the side with no hearing and feed it to your hearing ear. This ensures that you don’t miss sounds on your deaf side. BiCROS aids are suitable if you have some hearing loss in your better ear. They amplify sound from both sides and feed it into the ear that has some hearing.