How Are Hearing Aids Today Different?
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities.
There are three basic parts to a hearing aid: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The basics haven’t changed for decades. What has changed significantly is how a hearing aid manipulates the sound as it enters the hearing aid and eventually sends the signal into your ear canal. Theses advances include:
- Automatic volume adjustments
- Automatic adaptation to background noise
- Built in FM, Infrared and Bluetooth technology
- Water resistant technology
- Hearing aids look better than ever before coming in a variety of shapes, colors and styles
1. Is there a link between hearing loss and age?
There is a strong relationship between age and reported hearing loss: 18 percent of American adults 45-64 years old, 30 percent of adults 65-74 years old, and 47 percent of adults 75 years old or older have a hearing loss.
2. Are there different styles of hearing aids?
There are three basic styles of hearing aids. The styles differ by size, their placement on or inside the ear, and the degree to which they amplify sound.
Behind the Ear Hearing Aids
Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids consist of a small device worn behind the ear and connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The electronic parts are held in the case behind the ear. Sound travels from the hearing aid through the earmold and into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss. A new kind of BTE aid is an open-fit hearing aid.
Small, open-fit aids fit behind the ear completely, with only a narrow tube inserted into the ear canal, enabling the canal to remain open. For this reason, open-fit hearing aids may be a good choice for people who experience a buildup of earwax, since this type of aid is less likely to be damaged by such substances.
In the Ear Hearing Aids
In the ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely inside the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. Some ITE aids may have certain added features installed, such as a telecoil. This makes it easier to hear conversations over the telephone.
A telecoil also helps people hear in public facilities that have installed special sound systems, called induction loop systems. Induction loop systems can be found in many churches, schools, airports, and auditoriums. ITE aids usually are not worn by young children because the casings need to be replaced often as the ear grows.
Canal Hearing Aids
Canal aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two styles. The in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid is made to fit the size and shape of a person’s ear canal. A completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid is nearly hidden in the ear canal. Both types are used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Because they are small, canal aids are more difficult for a person to adjust and remove. In addition, canal aids have less space available for batteries and additional components, such as a telecoil. They usually are not recommended for young children or for people with severe to profound hearing loss because their reduced size limits their power and volume.