Are All Hearing Devices The Same? Understanding the Difference
Do you suffer from hearing impairment or hearing loss? The most common way to address hearing loss is with the use of hearing devices such as hearing aids or implants.
Hearing devices amplify sounds and make it easier for you to hear. Most hearing devices are available through hearing centers and audiologists. But recently, select hearing devices have become available as over-the-counter products.
When it comes to hearing devices, not all are created equally. Some hearing devices are better than others, depending on the type of hearing loss you have and how severe it is. This guide will go over some of the most popular hearing aids and what sets them apart from one another.
What Types of Hearing Devices Are There?
The following are just a few of the most frequently used hearing devices available at hearing centers like Happy Ears Hearing Center:
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
A behind-the-ear hearing aid, or BTE aid, fits perfectly behind your ear with a custom ear mold or thin tubing attached. The behind-the-ear aid features multiple parts and requires manual dexterity to be placed properly. BTE hearing aids are a good option for many candidates as they can treat mild to severe hearing loss.
In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
In-the-ear, or ITE, hearing aids are devices that fill the entire ear or partially fill the bowl of the ear. They are suitable for people with dexterity issues that can make it hard to handle small objects. An ITE hearing aid is an excellent choice for patients with hearing impairment that is moderate to significant.
Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE) Hearing Aids
A RITE, or receiver-in-the-ear, hearing aid is similar to a BTE device. The body of the hearing aid sits behind your ear and has a thin receiver wire leading from the hearing aid to the outer ear. This extends back into the ear canal as a soft tip sits on the inside of the ear canal without being sealed. It creates a natural sound for most people.
RITE devices call for unimpaired dexterity and are suitable for patients with mild to severe hearing loss.
In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids
In-the-canal, or ITC, hearing aids fit deeply into your ear canal, making them less visible than other hearing devices. Their size is significantly smaller, making them harder to handle than other hearing aids. These aids are a great option for anyone with moderate to severe hearing loss.
Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
Completely-in-the-canal, or CIC, hearing aids are like in-the-canal aids, but they fit deeper into your ear canal. This makes them less visible to the naked eye. These devices work for patients with pronounced hearing impairments.
Cochlear implants are electronic devices implanted into the ear. These implants produce sensations for patients who have nerve-related hearing loss. Cochlear implants work by stimulating nerves in the inner ear to make hearing easier for those with moderate to severe hearing loss.
Bone Anchored Implants
Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA) is an implantable hearing device that transmits sound through the bone to the inner ear. Unlike traditional hearing aids that amplify sound and deliver it to the ear through the air, BAHA uses the bones in the skull to conduct sound vibrations directly to the inner ear, bypassing any problems with the outer or middle ear. BAHA is suitable for individuals with conductive hearing loss or single-sided deafness who may not benefit from traditional hearing aids.
Features and Technology of Hearing Devices
Both hearing aids and implants come with a variety of beneficial features. These devices can help partially or fully restore your hearing using innovative technology.
The following are just some of the advanced features available with hearing devices:
- Rechargeable batteries
- Analog vs. digital technology
- Wireless connectivity options
- Directional microphone technology
- Noise reduction and speech enhancement
Every device is unique and has its own features and technology. Some devices are more modern than others and may be easier to use. You should speak with your audiologist to find out which features each type of hearing device comes with.
How to Choose the Right Hearing Device
With the help of an audiologist, you should consider various factors to choose the optimal hearing device for you. Finding the best aid or implant for you will require you to assess your specific needs and understand the different technology options.
You should also consider the cost of each device and whether your insurance will cover it. An audiologist can inform you about each type of hearing device and what may work for you.
See an Audiologist
Whether it’s how they work or how they are placed, hearing devices have distinct differences.
Hearing aids are a traditional option that benefits many patients. There are also a wide variety of hearing aids to choose from, depending on your motor skills and ear structure. Cochlear implants are an option for patients with more pronounced hearing difficulties.
A new option is over-the-counter hearing aids, which can help patients with mild hearing impairment. Even when choosing over-the-counter aids, you should seek professional input from an audiologist.
The doctors of audiology at Happy Ears Hearing Center can evaluate your hearing loss to determine what type of device is best to meet your needs.