Notice that the higher pitched sounds are a little muffled these days? Or maybe those low notes don't get through clearly? If you're not hearing the world the way you did back then, you're missing a lot.
Today, people who experience hearing loss have a long list of options when selecting hearing aids – but which is right for you? Well, it depends on two key factors: (1) the type and extent of your hearing loss and (2) your priorities – what's important to you.
What Is Most Important To You When It Comes To Hearing Aids?
Start by making a list of what's most important to you in your selection of the type of hearing aids that'll work best as your connection to the world of sound.
Hearing aid manufacturers offer a full slate of options from tiny completely-in the-ear (CIC) hearing aids to behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids that pack a lot of oomph and a long list of features.
ITE, in-the-ear, hearing aids are a popular choice for many first-time hearing aid buyers looking for a discrete profile. Each style of ITE hearing aids slip into the ear canal and rest on the edge of the canal so, yes, people will see them to some degree. But ITEs are discrete. They don't scream "I'M WEARING HEARING AIDS!!!" ITEs are low profile, but they might not be right for all hearing aid wearers – a number that's growing every day as more and more Baby Boomers move into hearing aid land.
So think about what's most important to you. Become an educated consumer, an advocate for your own hearing health. Some considerations in today's hearing aid marketplace?
- size, shape and visibility – what you hope for cosmetically
- sound quality
- power (amplification of sound) – dependent upon your hearing loss needs
- open ear sound and fit for a more natural fitting
- wearing comfort
- wireless connectivity to cells, PDAs and other wireless devices
- various listening demands – in background noise versus at home in quiet
|Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes - one just perfect for you. Pictured: Oticon Agil Hearing Aids|
A Short Review of ITE Hearing Aids
ITE hearing aids are custom made, meaning they are made for each person's ear specifically based on a mold that was sent into the hearing aid manufacturer. They range in size from the CIC (completely-in-the-canal) to the low-profile design.
ITEs are inserted into the ear canal, though they remainvisible within the outer ear depending upon the size. For example, CICs sit the deepest within the ear canal and are difficult to see visually. Low profile designs fill up part of the outer ear bowl and are somewhat visible.
The size of custom hearing aids you can wear will depend on the amount of hearing loss you have and the physical attributes of your ear canal and outer ear. The smaller the hearing aid, the less power and features it will allow for.
ITE Positives: If high cosmetic appeal tops your list of priorities, small ITEs are the way to go – as long as they provide the power to amp up sound to address the extent of your hearing loss. Smaller ITEs are designed for mild to moderate hearing loss. Because they are so small, they don't pack the digital punch of the larger BTEs which employ larger casings, providing engineers more room to add amps and other circuitry to increase automated convenience.
ITE Negatives: Due to their smaller size, custom ITE hearing aids are often a little harder to handle when it comes time to inserting/removing and swapping out a dead battery for a fresh power plant. When dexterity is a concern, a larger hearing aid simplifies usage and save time, frustration and your eyesight.
Because ITE hearing aids sit within the ear canal they are more subjected to wax produced by the ear. For persons who tend to produce a lot of wax, this style may not be the most ideal as wax can easily enter the hearing aid cause problems. Cleaning is necessary on a daily basis to prevent this.
Another commonly reported issue with custom hearing aids is the quality of one's own voice sounds can sound distorted or too loud. When the ITE hearing aid is inserted into the ear, the entire ear is blocked and can disrupt the way the user's own voice sounds. This varies greatly among hearing aid wearers due to differences in ear canal shape and hearing loss.
A Short Review of BTE Hearing Aids
Probably the most recognizable hearing aids, BTEs rest behind the ear with a small, clear tube sitting on the edge of the ear canal. Thanks to advancements in design and miniaturization of digital hearing aid parts, these hearing aids are also low profile and lightweight, delivering wearing comfort throughout the day.
Because BTEs are slightly larger than ITE hearing aids, you can expect more automated features and more power for a wide variety of hearing losses. BTEs are designed for those with mild to profound hearing loss, so your hearing professional will assist in determining which type of BTE hearing aid is best for your hearing loss.
BTE Positives: BTEs deliver more power and more features. Due to their slightly larger size, BTEs are often easier to handle for those with dexterity problems.
Open fit BTEs, the latest and greatest in BTE hearing aid design, provide an open fit allowing a more natural feel and sound quality of those with mild to moderate hearing loss or hearing loss only in the high pitches.
For persons who produce a lot of wax BTE hearing aids may be an ideal option for you. Since the hearing aid sits behind the ear, it is not subjected to was on a daily basis. Instead the custom earmold or ear dome that sits within the ear canal can be removed and cleaned.
Another plus to today's BTEs are enhanced color options to choose from. Many colors are able to blend in, matching the color of your hair or skin to increase invisibility.
Talk to an audiologist or hearing aid practitioner to determine which type of hearing aid best suits your hearing needs and your personal lifestyle.
Create a list of what's important to you before you buy and review your list of hearing aid priorities with your hearing solutions authority.
Get the features you want and get back in to life with today's hearing aid technology.