Helpful guide to picking a Hearing Aid
Picking a hearing aid that suits your hearing needs can sometimes seem overwhelming. Here at Audiology Associates, we make recommendations for style and technology level based on not only your specific hearing configuration, but also your lifestyle. But what, exactly, are the differences between all of the different styles?
Often, this is the type of device patients think of when they hear the word “hearing aid”. This is the largest of the hearing aid options and the most powerful. BTEs are typically recommended for more severe hearing losses. Sound is sealed in the ear by a custom earmold designed specifically for you.
The Naída Paradise is Phonak’s most recent BTE device, featuring seven different color options, phone connectivity, and remote microphone compatibility. For more severe to profound hearing losses, the Naída P-UP runs on a powerful 675 battery, allowing for a whopping 9-20 days of usage before needing to replace the battery. For mild to severe hearing losses, the Naída P-PR offers a rechargeable option, all the same bells and whistles of the P-UP, plus the addition of tap control – allowing you to answer phone calls, pause music and activate your voice assistants with a quick tap.
Probably the most common style that offers the most flexibility, RICs can handle anywhere from a mild to a severe hearing loss. They offer the ability to be paired with either an appropriately sized dome or a custom earmold for those with dexterity or retention concerns. Much like the BTE style, because this device sits behind the ear, the microphones on the device can more easily pick out speech signals from background noise.
Oticon’s current revolutionary RIC device is the Oticon More, which comes in either a rechargeable or a battery-powered version depending on preference. This subtle device offers not only excellent sound quality, but also bluetooth connectivity so you can effortlessly take phone calls or listen to your favorite songs through your devices.
Custom hearing aids come in essentially three different styles and as the name implies, are custom made to fit your specific ear. These devices sit in the ear and are made up of a single unit, unlike RICs and BTEs, which are made up of a hearing aid body that sits behind the ear and a piece that fits into the ear canal. Custom devices are more occluding and not typically recommended to patients with good low-frequency hearing, as this can result in a plugged-up sensation and echo-like sound quality. Also, if understanding speech in noise is your primary concern, this may not be the best option. However, if you’re looking for a hassle-free style that works well with masks and/or glasses, custom devices might be a good choice.
Starkey’s latest Evolv AI technology now offers a rechargeable option for their ITE and ITC devices. This new line of technology boasts great sound quality and hands-free phone calls for most iPhone users. With the help of the associated Thrive app, Starkey Evolv AI users have the added comfort of fall detection, activity tracking, a translation tool and many other features.
ITEs are the largest of the custom device types and can consequently hold the most technology. This style is typically most suitable for moderate to severe hearing losses, but can accommodate more profound hearing loss as needed. Most hearing devices in this style offer bluetooth compatibility and because of their larger size, are great for patients who have any concerns with dexterity. Similar to the behind the ear styles, ITE devices typically use size 312 or 13 batteries, offering up to one to two weeks of battery life respectively.
Custom Devices: In the Canal (ITCs)
ITCs are slightly smaller than the ITE and rather than fill up parts of the outer ear, sit in the canal itself. This style is designed for anywhere from mild to severe hearing losses and is a good option if you don’t want as much bulk as an ITE offers. These devices rely on the anatomy of your canal to help hold them in place, though they can be made with an extension into the bowl of your ear to help with retention.
Custom Devices: Invisible In the Canal (IICs) & Completely in Canal (CICs)
If subtlety is your number one priority, IIC or CIC devices are the smallest possible styles of hearing aid. As the IIC’s name suggests, these tiny devices are practically invisible, sitting further in the ear canal. CICs are slightly larger, though fairly unassuming counterparts of the IICs, that sit in the ear canal. Because of the limited internal space, these types of hearing aids are only available for mild to moderate hearing losses and utilize a small Size 10 battery, allowing for 3-4 days of battery life.
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Dr. Peter Marincoivch