Types of hearing aids
Hearing aids are chosen and programmed based on the wearer’s respective needs and hearing profile. In particular, hearing technology has made quantum leaps in terms of appearance and wearing comfort. Most hearing aids are very similar in structure. They have one or two microphones, an amplifier and a loudspeaker (known as the “receiver” in technical jargon). The microphones absorb ambient noise, the sound is processed in the form of electrical impulses and then delivered amplified to the ear.
There are three general categories of hearing aids.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
BTE hearing aids are suitable for all degrees of hearing loss. They can be worn comfortably and discreetly behind the ear and are available in different sizes. The amplified sounds are led directly into the ear canal via a thin, almost invisible tube, where it opens into a custom-made earpiece (earmold). Since BTE devices have more space for electronics than other designs, they are suitable for a wide range of technical options as well as for high amplification.
Receiver-in-canal (RIC)/external receiver aids
These devices are smaller than normal BTE models and available for mild to severe hearing impairments. They can be worn comfortably and almost invisibly behind the ear and differ from BTE devices in that they have a loudspeaker or “receiver” which is removed from the housing. This is located at the end of a thin cable lead, which leads into the ear canal near the eardrum. Compared to normal BTE devices, the sound produced there covers less distance with lower transmission loss, requiring significantly less sound energy which can result in longer battery life.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
ITE hearing aids, also called in-ear (IE) hearing aids, are worn entirely in the auricle or ear canal. Their electronics are incorporated into a custom-made hollow shell. In this way, ITE devices can make use of the anatomical benefits of the external ear. An ITE device is an option for people with mild to severe hearing loss.
In-ear hearing aids are subdivided into three subcategories depending on whether they are worn in the auricle, recessed in the ear canal or are completely in the ear canal, making them 100% invisible. Despite all the efforts for miniaturisation, the latter two variants require a large enough ear canal and are therefore not suitable for everyone. Since modern behind-the-ear devices are also very discreet and attractive, in-ear devices (especially ones in the auricle) hardly provide any aesthetic advantages.
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Did you know?
People with hearing loss often avoid social situations. Fortunately, modern hearing solutions can be used in sports and everyday activities.