Put simply, there are two types of traditional hearing aids – in the ear (custom) and behind the ear. The decision between these two types can be based on the factors listed above especially cosmetics, hearing loss severity and features. Keep in mind that hearing aid technology is always changing and improving. Some hearing aid features that were not available in certain styles in the past are now accomplished because of the advancement of technology. Demands of the patients wanting more from their hearing aids, no matter what style they have chosen have also driven these changes.
Custom devices fit inside the ear only. Your audiologist will start the process by putting a putty-like material into the ear, wait until it hardens and then send that impression of your ear to the hearing aid manufacturer. The hearing aid is then made specifically to your ear so that it fits comfortably and has good retention so the wearer can feel confident that it will not come out until they pull it out themselves. There are different sizes of custom devices. Some patients want the smallest available for cosmetic reasons. If choosing a smaller size, you may lose some features and have a smaller battery size because the hearing aid is simply not large enough to house anything larger. The advantage to the smaller sizes it that the hearing aids may not be seen at all by others. Some patients may want the larger size for easier insertion and removal of the hearing aid from the ear and also the battery due to dexterity or even poor eyesight. The factors discussed previously will help a patient determine which custom devices best suits their needs. The different sizes, from smallest to largest, are: CIC – Completely-in-the-canal, ITC – In-the-canal, ITE – In-the-ear.
Behind the Ear Devices
Behind the ear (BTE) devices have the majority of the hearing aid components in a casing that fits behind the ear that then connects to a piece that delivers the sound into the ear canal. A traditional BTE has either a tube and earmold or a slim tube and dome. These styles are chosen based on hearing loss severity and cosmetics. New styles of BTEs have a speaker wire. This speaker wire connects to the hearing aid on the back of the ear and then delivers sound directly into the ear canal with a dome on its end. This type is popular because of its ability to have a variety of desired features, namely rechargeability, but also its near-invisible look on the ear. Patients can choose the colors of the hearing aid behind the ear. Most will choose a color that matches their hair, skin or eyeglass frame but other colors like red and blue are also available. Both types of hearing aids that fit behind the ear are listed below: RIC – Receiver-in-canal AKA RITE – Receiver-in-the-ear, BTE – Behind-the-ear.
Cost of Hearing Devices
It is important to note that whichever style of hearing aids is chosen – custom or behind the ear – the price of those devices is determined mostly by the technology level. Any technology level can be fit into any style of hearing aids. Another important pricing factor that should be considered by any patient looking to purchase a set of hearing aids is service.
Service Questions to Ask
How long will they service the hearing aids?
Is the service an extra cost or included?
Who will be your hearing care provider?
What credentials does that person have?
It is best to schedule for a hearing evaluation and/or consult with an audiologist to determine which hearing aid device is best for you and your budget. Their expertise and knowledge will guide the patient in the best choice. Contact any of our seven locations!