Hearing Aid Styles

One of the best reasons for seeing a Doctor of Audiology is the special care and expertise she will offer you in this important decision. Hearing aid technology has improved tremendously over the last few years. From noise reduction capabilities to Bluetooth compatibility, hearing aid technology is evolving to meet the needs of people communicating in a wide range of situations.

Based on your specific hearing loss, communication needs and budget, we will work with you to determine the best hearing aids for your situation. We offer a wide range of hearing aids in different styles, so there is a match for every patient. A description of the styles follows:

Hearing aid styles vary depending on types and degrees of hearing losses. Not all styles will work for all losses. Within each style there are different levels of technology, giving Dr. Ullauri and her patients a wide range of options. Dr. Ullauri will recommend styles and technology based on hearing levels and the specific needs of each patient.

Hearing levels are not the only factor in the equation when selecting the right hearing aid style and technology.  Other equally important factors to consider are: anatomical individual needs (related to the shape, size, malformation or deformities of the external ear canal or pinna), chronic middle ear problems, hearing loss type and pattern, most common listening environments, and a patient’s need or desire for additional accessories such as remote microphones, FM systems, or wireless connectivity.

The following is a simple description of the main hearing aid styles:

In-the-Canal (ITC) and Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) aids are custom made hearing aids that house the electronics partly or completely in the ear canal. How invisible they are depends on a few factors such as the technology needed to meet the needs of the patient such as T coil, wireless connection, and the size of the ear canal.

Behind-the-Ear: Also known as BTE hearing aids. With conventional BTE aids, a custom earmold attaches to the hearing aid and channels the sound into your ear. The earmold is made by making a silicone impression of your ear and ear canal. It is then sent to a lab which makes the customized earmold. These hearing aids are very sturdy and also have the potential for the most power. In recent years, more powerful RIC and RITE hearing aids have become available with custom earmolds to fit more severe hearing loss. With power RIC and RITE devices, the ear canal is not open as described above, but is occluded or partially occluded to allow for more amplification of sound. These smaller BTE aids also have great cosmetic appeal.

Mini BTE - Receiver in the canal style: This style places the receiver in the ear canal with standard dome or a custom made ear mold, it is very discrete, hardly seen by others, can be fit to different degrees of losses if a customized mold is used as well as a power receiver.

Using just an audiogram to select your hearing aids is not advisable because you end up with hearing aids that do not meet your individual needs, and instead, only your hearing thresholds. Dr. Ullauri is looking at the other factors mentioned above to make sure any selected devices suit each patient.

For example, a patient with a hearing loss who also has a condition called exostosis (a bony growth within the ear canal that results in narrowing down the canal) may need a custom made ear mold with a Behind-The-Ear (BTE) style hearing aid. A receiver in the canal or an In-The-Canal (ITC) hearing aid may not be an option for this patient due to the size of the canal. A patient who needs wireless connectivity for a job involving ongoing cell phone calls, interviews and meetings may not benefit from a Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) device because its small size does not have wireless connectivity. 

A patient with a high pitch hearing loss may benefit more from a receiver in the canal style, without an earmold blocking the ear canal, making the In-The-Canal option less suitable. This will result in a more natural quality of sound, without the feeling of being in a tunnel or echoing, thus providing the patient with a pleasant hearing experience.

Hearing aids and hearing devices work, but ONLY when they are properly selected, programmed and verified for each patient’s individual needs. Hearing aid users tell us all the time: “Loudness does not equal clarity.” Depending on the patient’s scores in speech understanding in noise tests, Dr. Ullauri may recommend some specific features in a hearing aid, or perhaps a different hearing device than a patient had in mind. These are only a few examples to describe the many different needs and conditions a patient may have that need to be accounted for when selecting a hearing aid/device.

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