Hearing Aids are devices used to amplify sound at the ear level. They consist of a microphone or multiple microphone that collect sound in the environment and send it to the hearing aids digital processor that amplifies the sound and provides correction specifically for an individual’s hearing loss. Most hearing aids today are digital hearing aids providing processing power comparable to an audio chip in a mainstream computer these days.
Styles of Hearing Aids
There are many different styles or ways a hearing can look when being worn. Most modern hearing aids remain small in size even if they need to provide a lot of amplification for people with moderate to severe hearing loss.
• Completely in the Canal: the smallest type of hearing aid. Fits deeply in the ear and is virtually invisible unless looking directly into someone’s ear. This hearing has the most limitations as far as being able to fit all losses, however. Generally, it is only suitable for a mild to moderate hearing loss at all frequencies.
• Canal aid: Second smallest type of hearing aid. A little more visible than the CIC, but allows patients much more control over their hearing aid. It is only able to be appropriately fit to a mild or moderate hearing loss.
• Half Shell: The size of this hearing aid is roughly equivalent half the size of the concha bowl of the ear. The size allows for higher level noise reduction capabilities such as directional microphones. It is appropriate to fit moderately severe hearing loss.
• Full Shell: The largest of the in the ear hearing aids. The size of this aid fills the concha bowl fully, and creates a better acoustic seal allowing for a little more power. This hearing aid fits a larger type of battery which allows for larger battery life as well as all of the other benefits of the half shell.
• Micro-Behind the ear (open): A very small hearing aid specifically designed for a more natural sound and better comfort than the in the ear hearing aids. Able to fit hearing losses previously difficult to fit with in the ear hearing aids.
• Micro-Behind the ear (RIC): A receiver in canal (RIC) micro-BTE allows for comfort and clarity of the open fit hearing aid, but is more applicable to moderate and moderately severe hearing losses. When worn, the RIC looks virtually identical to the open BTE and has similar features.
Levels of Technology
Most hearing aid manufacturers have similar technologies, and arrange those technologies in a hierarchy based on the patient’s activity level.
• Entry Level: This level technology is based on the mild activity level. Patients, who do not go out often or are not in many different listening environments, do well with this level of technology. This level has very reduced noise reduction capabilities as well as fewer channels for fine adjustment than the other levels.
• Mid Level: This level of technology is appropriate for most people who are in several listening environments throughout the day. This level is comparable to the state of the art 2-3 years ago. It has an adequate number of channels and noise reduction capabilities, compared to what is available in the higher end instruments.
• Advanced Level: This level of technology is appropriate for people who are very active throughout the day. It is the state of the art as far as features and technologies are concerned. These aids offer the best hearing experience in a variety of environments.
All of the hearing aids come with a 30 day trial period and a manufacturer’s warranty ranging from 1-2 years. ENT Specialists of FL also offers financing plans through Care-Credit specifically for hearing aids, and will file the paperwork for insurance coverage for hearing aids.