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Hearing Aid Product Guide

Hearing aids are no longer considered a sign of “old age.” Advances in hearing aid technology have resulted in much smaller, less noticeable devices that offer considerable improvements over those previously available.

Because each patient is an individual with specific needs and concerns, a wide variety of hearing aid styles, sizes, technology and price ranges are offered. Our audiologist has expertise in the most technologically advanced digital hearing aids, and well as more basic digital hearing aid options.

In general, the lifespan of a hearing aid is about 3-5 years. There are many uncontrollable factors that may make your hearing aids no longer suitable for you, including:

Even with proper normal use, the need for repairs may occur.

Styles of Hearing Aids

Hearing aid styles may be broadly classified as “standard” and “custom.” Standard hearing aids include behind-the-ear (BTE), mini-BTE, and receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) devices. These products are designed to fit most ears and usually require some customization of the earpiece and the connection of the device to the earpiece. Custom hearing aids include in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), and completely-in-the-canal (CIC). These products require a custom-molded shell that houses the electronics. Standard and custom hearing aids come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.

While body and eyeglass style hearing aids were regularly used 40 – 50 years ago, they comprise only about 1 percent of all hearing aids marketed today. Instead, most individuals choose ITE (approximately 30 percent) or BTE (approximately 70 percent) style hearing aids. This transition in style, use and preference is occurring for a number of reasons, including the reduction in the size of the components, durability and cosmetic concerns on the part of the consumer.

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

The BTE style hearing aid is housed in a small curved case which fits behind the ear and is attached to a custom earpiece molded to the shape of your outer ear. Some BTE models do not use a custom earpiece; instead the rubber tubing is inserted directly into the ear. The case is typically flesh colored, but can be obtained in many colors and/or patterns.

 

In-the-ear (ITE)

The ITE style hearing aid fits directly into the external ear. In-the-ear styles include in-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) styles. The circuitry is housed primarily in the outside portion of the ear. Because the parts are smaller (including the microphone, receiver and battery), it is possible to make hearing aids small enough to fill only a portion of outer ear (ITC) or fit deeply into the ear canal (CIC). All three of these styles have typically been considered to be more modern and cosmetically appealing. However, modern BTE hearing aids have become smaller and at times are less noticeable than some ITC hearing aids.

Other features of in-the-ear instruments include:

Brief Guide to Modern Hearing Aid Technology

Many hearing aids have user controls (e.g. toggle switch, volume control wheel, push button or remote control) that enable the wearer to adjust a variety of hearing aid parameters, including:

Source: Gus Mueller, Ph.D. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
Ruth Bentler, Ph.D. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

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