Hearing aids are basically battery-powered electronic devices that make listening easier for people with hearing problems. Hearing aids usually fit in or behind the wearer’s ear.
Hearing aids usually consist of three parts, which are the microphone, amplifier, and the receiver. The microphone is responsible for picking up sounds from the user’s environment and converts them into electronic signals. The electronic signals are then intensified by the amplifier. Afterwards, the receiver, which is a very small speaker, changes the electric signal back to a recognizable sound that is delivered to the ear.
Hearing aids offered today are more sophisticated compared to the hearing aids in the past, especially since today’s hearing aids are able to provide a lot more features compared to previous ones. These features include a protection to the ear from surprising loud sounds as well as wireless earpiece for making hands-free phone calls. Also, there are programmable hearing aids that allow their users to adjust hearing aid settings according to their preference.
Hearing aids are available in various types, depending on the size, power, and circuitry. These hearing aid types include the invisible in canal aids (IIC), the body worn aids, behind the ear aids (BTEs), and the in the ear aids (ITEs).
Invisible in canal aids or IICs are designed to completely fit right inside the ear canal, leaving no visible trace of hearing aid. Even so, IICs can still be comfortably worn because they are usually custom-made to fit individual ear canals. IICs offer a more natural hearing experience because of their position in the ear canal. In addition, some IIC models allow for hands-free phone calls, complete with a remote control that can adjust volume settings and even change its memory. However, IICs are not recommended for use by elderly people.
Body worn aids, on the other hand, consist of a case and an ear mold that is attached by wire. The case contains the amplifier, the controls, and the battery while the ear mold contains the loudspeaker. Furthermore, the case is carried in a pocket or worn on a belt. The advantage of body worn aids is that they can provide large amplification and long battery life, all at a much cheaper price compared to other hearing aid types.
Another one is the BTE, which consists of a case, an ear mold, and a connection between these two parts. The case, which usually sits behind the outer part of the ear, contains the hearing aid’s electronics, controls, battery, microphone, and, sometimes, the loudspeaker. The sound can be directed to the ear either acoustically or electrically. BTEs are recommended for mild to intense hearing loss.
Unlike BTEs, ITEs fit into the outer bowl of the ear so that they are often visible when standing face to face with anyone who is using them. In order to make a perfect fit, ITEs are custom made. Because of this, ITEs are more expensive compared to other hearing aid types. ITEs can also be used for mild to severe hearing loss.