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Hearing Aids

What You Need to Know

What are Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are sound-amplifying devices designed to aid people who have a hearing impairment.

Most hearing aids share several similar electronic components, including a microphone that picks up sound; amplifier circuitry that makes the sound louder; a miniature loudspeaker (receiver) that delivers the amplified sound into the ear canal; and batteries that power the electronic parts.

Hearing aids differ by design, technology used to achieve amplification (i.e., analog vs. digital) and special features.

Some hearing aids also have earmolds or earpieces to direct the flow of sound into the ear and enhance sound quality. The selection of hearing aids is based on the type and severity of hearing loss, listening needs, and lifestyle.

What are the Different Styles of Hearing Aids?

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Aids

Most parts are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is connected to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. This style is often chosen for young children because it can accommodate various earmold types, which need to be replaced as the child grows. Also, the BTE aids are easy to be cleaned and handled, and are relatively sturdy.

"Mini" BTE (or "On-the-Ear") Aids

A new type of BTE aid called the mini BTE (or "on-the-ear") aid. It also fits behind/on the ear, but is smaller. A very thin, almost invisible tube is used to connect the aid to the ear canal. Mini BTEs may have a comfortable ear piece for insertion ("open fit"), but may also use a traditional earmold. Mini BTEs allow not only reduced occlusion or "plugged up" sensations in the ear canal, but also increase comfort, reduce feedback and address cosmetic concerns for many users.

In-the-Ear (ITE) Aids

All parts of the hearing aid are contained in a shell that fills in the outer part of the ear. The ITE aids are larger than the in-the-canal and completely-in-the-canal aids (see below), and for some people may be easier to handle than smaller aids.

In-the-Canal (ITC) Aids and Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Aids

These hearing aids are contained in tiny cases that fit partly or completely into the ear canal. They are the smallest hearing aids available and offer cosmetic and some listening advantages. However, their small size may make them difficult to handle and adjust for some people.




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