Pros and Cons of Different Hearing Aid Styles

Hearing Aid

Hearing aid options continue to evolve as technology progresses. These devices currently come in four major varieties. Each style offers distinct pros and cons, so it’s important to compare them carefully. Many of the differences affect performance, maintenance costs or convenience.

A. Behind-the-Ear

Almost anyone can use a BTE hearing aid; this equipment accommodates mild to severe hearing problems. Owners seldom need to repair behind-the-ear units. Another benefit of this design is that it minimizes audio feedback. It accomplishes this by keeping the receiver fairly far away from the microphone.

  • Some maintenance but few repairs
  • Rarely produces bothersome feedback
  • More visible than most other types

On the other hand, BTE units usually require earmolds or buds. People often have to replace molds after about three years. Additionally, they demand retubing from time to time. Many micro-BTE devices feature tubes and tips that occasionally need replacement. Behind-the-ear units remain bigger than some alternatives, but they’ve become considerably smaller in recent years.

B. In-the-Ear

Like BTE devices, ITE models can benefit individuals with many different levels of hearing loss. They normally feature dual microphones. This helps people hear more clearly in noisy places, such as city streets, supermarkets and busy restaurants.

Hearing Aid

In-the-ear devices have several drawbacks as well. In comparison to their BTE counterparts, they need cleaning and repair more often. Ear wax has the potential to cause significant problems. These hearing aids also produce feedback more frequently than the alternatives. This happens because the microphone is located near the receiver.

C. Receiver-in-Canal

People can choose this type regardless of how severe their hearing loss becomes. An RIC unit partially hides in the ear canal, so it’s an ideal option for anyone who doesn’t want people to see a hearing aid. This equipment rarely generates annoying feedback noise.

  • Discreet style makes it hard to see
  • Not as reliable as behind-the-ear units
  • New molds needed after 24 to 48 months

The biggest downside of RIC devices is that they fail more frequently than BTE models. Nonetheless, many audiologists can fix them quickly and inexpensively. This hearing aid style also necessitates earmolds or buds. Mold and tip maintenance adds to the total cost of owning the device.

D. Completely-in-Canal

The most noteworthy advantage of a CIC unit is that it’s particularly hard to see. No one will notice this compact hearing aid. The placement of the device also maximizes audio quality. Wearers usually don’t have difficulty listening to people who speak softly.

Completely-in-canal models present several drawbacks. They require repair more often than other types, and feedback can easily become a problem. Occlusion may make the wearer’s voice seem to echo or sound odd. It can also amplify chewing noises. Furthermore, this style isn’t suitable for anyone who has difficulty handling small objects.

The best choice varies depending on a person’s environment, budget and personal preferences. Specific hearing aids may have additional pros and cons; it’s wise to perform thorough research before making a purchase. Audiologists help individuals select models that fully accommodate their wants and needs.

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