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A Quick Guide to Choosing Custom Hearing Aids

Choosing a custom hearing aid has traditionally been an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. The best way to minimize the confusion is to work with an experienced audiologist. This professional will guide you through the entire process and help you make the most intelligible decision. It's important to understand your audiologist uses the information you provide them to make suggestions for custom hearing aids. This means you must be as accurate and inclusive about your lifestyle. For instance, if the audiologist asks whether you are active or sedentary, give the audiologists examples of the type of activities you like to do. With this information, they can make suggestions for custom hearing aids that will best fit your life. Continue reading to learn more about the different types of custom hearing aids.

Different Styles of Custom Hearing Aids

Completely-In-the-Canal (CIC)

These types of hearing aids are customized to fit securely in the canal of your ear. CIC aids are especially designed for adults suffering mild to moderate hearing loss. As the least visible and smallest type of hearing aids, these units are least likely to pick up wind noise. They use extremely small batteries, which may be difficult to handle and have a shorter life. Because these aids are so small, CIC hearing aids typically will not have any extra features, such as directional microphones or volume control. In addition, the CIC hearing aid are most susceptible for earwax clogging the speaker.

In-the-Canal (ITC)

In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are custom molded for a comfortable fit. ITC custom hearing aids are specifically designed for adults suffering from mild to moderate adult hearing loss and fit partially in the canal of the ear. These devices are significantly less visible and smaller than other types of hearing aids. ITC custom hearing aids often include many more features that will not fit on CIC hearing aids, such as a directional microphone or volume control. However, these features may be relatively difficult to adjust due to the small size of the aid. These types of custom hearing aids are also susceptible to earwax potentially clogging the speaker.

In-the-Ear (ITE)

The ITE style is designed for those suffering from hearing loss that ranges from mild to severe. These custom hearing aids are made as either:

  • Full shells fill the majority of the bowl-shaped part of your outer ear,

  • Half shells are designed to only fit the lower part of your ear.

Regardless of the type of ITE custom hearing aid you use, these units typically will have additional features that do not fit on smaller hearing aids, such as volume control, etc. Many people with ITE hearing aids find them easier to handle. While ITE aids are more visible than smaller devices, they do have a longer battery life and may pick up more wind noise. These units are also susceptible to the speaker being clogged by earwax.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

The BTE style of hearing aid is designed to hook over the top of the ear and rest behind your ear. These types of devices utilize an earmold, which fits into your ear canal and is connected to the BTE with tubing. Behind-the-ear hearing aids are effective for any type of hearing loss and for people of all ages. Although the BTE aids have traditionally been the largest type, some of the newer miniature designs are significantly less visible. These units will pick up the most wind noise, but are able to produce more amplified sounds than any other style.

Receiver-in-the-Canal (RIC) or Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE)

These custom hearing aids are extremely similar to the BTE custom hearing aids. Instead of using tubing to connect the earmold to the hearing device, RITE and RIC units utilize a tiny wire. Because of the tiny wire, these units are less conspicuous. However, these devices are also susceptible to the speaker being clogged by earwax.

Open Fit

This type of hearing aid is another variation of the BTE device with a thin tube. The innovative styling of these units help the ear canal stay open, which promotes the natural entry of low-frequency sounds and the amplification of high-frequency sounds. Because of this design, the open fit hearing aids are best for individuals suffering from mild to moderate hearing loss. Open fit hearing aids do not plug your as the ITC hearing aids, which makes your own voice sound better. Although these devices are smaller and less visible, they can be more difficult to handle and adjust because of the small parts.

Top Features for Custom Hearing Aids

Today's hearing aids offer several cool features designed to enhance your quality of life. When speaking to your audiologist about custom hearing aids, make sure to ask about the following features:

  • Direction microphones and environmental noise control improve your ability to hear when you are in noisy environments with substantial background noise.

  • Synchronization simplifies adjusting and programming for people with two custom hearing aids.

  • Variable programming allows you to store multiple pre programmed listening settings for different environments.

  • Remote controls offer a separate remote control to manage features without ever touching the device.

  • Direct audio input allows you to plugin audio from music devices, a computer, or TVs with a cord.

  • Bluetooth connectivity allows you interface wirelessly with other Bluetooth-compatible devices, such as TVs, music players, and smartphones.

  • Rechargeable batteries simplify maintaining your custom hearing aid.

  • Telecoils are designed to make talking on the phone easier and more effective.

You should also think about the future. Ask whether your custom hearing aid has the potential to have an increase in power. This will save you money in the long run, especially if your hearing gets worse in the future.

Diane Rutkowsky Faulknor, MA, CCC/A

After 18 years of experience in the field of audiology and hearing aid dispensing, I felt it was time to start my own practice which has led to the creation of North Shore Hearing, P.C. I take pride in the care I provide for my patients as hearing is not just a medical issues we need to deal with, but also the social and lifestyle ramifications that people with poor hearing live with on a day-to-day basis. Based on not only your hearing loss, but also the type of lifestyle you lead, we'll work together to fit you with the most appropriate hearing aid available in today's marketplace.

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