Do you suspect that you might be in need of hearing aids, but aren’t sure which one to choose from? Don’t worry, as you’re far from alone. Our team here at Robillard Hearing Centres is happy to help you make a well-informed and confident decision when it comes to your hearing needs.
Before shopping for hearing aids at all, you first need to develop a deeper understanding of your hearing condition. This will help to determine the significance of the hearing loss in question. The primary benefit of a hearing test is that you will find out if your ears’ functionality will benefit from hearing aids – you can even get a demonstration of how they can help in noisy environments! If you do book a free hearing test at one of our 12 locations, our hearing professionals can provide a full range of services and use state-of-the-art equipment. If you cannot book an in-person hearing test with us for any reason, we recommend taking our quick and easy online hearing test.
If you’ve already taken care of this step, then great! Even for more severe cases, there’s a hearing aid option available for you. Read on to explore each of the most common hearing aid types out there, how they work, and general tips on how to look after them.
How Does a Hearing Aid Function?
Before diving into the various hearing aid types available on the market today, let’s recap how they work. The process is generally similar across all types. First, a microphone receives an audio signal from the outside world. This passes through a tiny amplifier and is turned into a digital (numbered code) or analog (electrical pulse) signal. Afterwards, a built-in speaker in the hearing aid interprets the signal and produces the sound. Many hearing aids include additional features such as button inputs for controls, wireless connectivity including via Bluetooth, and more.
In-Ear/In-Canal Hearing Aid Types
For options when it comes to hearing aids contained within the ear or ear canal, there are several worth considering. These include the following:
In-Canal Hearing Aids
These are custom-designed to fit within the lower one-third of your ear. They’re very easy to insert and remove, and they remain fixed in place due to the personalized shape. They can be slightly susceptible to earwax buildup and excess moisture if not cleaned on a regular basis, but this is easy to do by gently brushing it away and ensuring ventilation openings and microphones aren’t clogged. When compared to the other in-canal types of hearing aids we’ve covered below, these are the largest and most visible.
Invisible in-Canal Hearing Aids
If you’re wondering, “what types of hearing aids are there that people are unlikely to notice?” then these are ideal. Invisible in-canal hearing aids are similar, except for the fact that they, as the term implies, are difficult to notice thanks to their incredibly discreet design. To put in an IIC hearing aid, carefully insert it deeply into the ear canal. However, don’t worry about it getting stuck, as there’s a very subtle string attached, which you can pull to remove it at any time.
These are the most compact hearing aids available, and they’re also ideal for reducing wind noises. Again, like with standard in-canal hearing aids, excess wax and moisture needs to be kept under control with regular cleanings to ensure optimal ventilation and efficiency. The deeper the hearing aid is, the more potential there is for buildup, but complications can be avoided with proper maintenance.
Completely-in-Canal Hearing Aids (CIC)
CIC hearing aids are very close to their invisible counterparts in terms of size. One of the only differences is that they don’t sit as far inside the ear canal, making them ever-so-subtly more visible but negating the need for a string to retrieve them. As with other in-canal hearing aids, the same regular maintenance needs apply, as wax and moisture buildup remain a possibility.
In-Ear Half-Shell/Full Shell Hearing Aids
Otherwise referred to as low-profile hearing aids, half and full-shell options offer up a more unique design. They are more visible since they are custom-fitted to rest within the outer ear, but the risk of wax and moisture buildup is lower as they aren’t inserted nearly as deep as in-canal alternatives. These are even easier to take in and remove as needed, and their larger size means there’s more room for extra features like a larger battery, wireless connectivity, and other options.
Standard regular cleaning practices apply with these types, consisting of removing and wiping them down with a recommended cleaning wipe or spray/cloth combination. This should be followed up by, as per usual, using a dedicated brush to remove all dirt, wax buildup, and other debris.
Behind-Ear Hearing Aids
Next, what about hearing aid options for behind your ears? There are a few choices you might want to consider if going this route, such as the following:
Standard Behind-Ear Hearing Aids
Standard behind-the-ear devices are different from conventional in-ear and in-canal alternatives. They gently yet snugly rest on the outer ear. There is no hardware inside the ear as a result. This means that there’s no risk of wax buildup, and they typically include a wide array of additional features since there’s plenty of room for their larger size. If you don’t mind hearing aids that are more visible (at least from behind or when viewed from the side), then these are a great fit – literally!
Don’t neglect behind-ear hearing aids as they still require basic maintenance. Since they’re more exposed to the outside world, moisture needs to be kept under control with extra care, and they still need to be sanitized and brush-cleaned to ensure all microphones and other features remain fully operational.
Receiver-in-Ear Hearing Aids
Receiver-in-ear systems are similar to the standard behind-the-ear type of hearing aid. In this case, however, a critical component is contained within the ear. A discreet speaker and/or receiver system is placed within the ear canal and attached by an invisible wire that connects to the remaining hardware tucked behind the outer ear.
Open-Fit Hearing Aids
Open-fit variants are almost exactly like receiver-in-ear models, utilizing a near-invisible speaker and cable that are tucked within the ear. The key difference here is that they don’t block the ear canal itself, hence the open-fit term. That way, background noises and dialogue don’t sound quite as “muddy” or distant.
Want to learn more about the various types of hearing aids we’ve covered? Our team at Robillard Hearing Centres is happy to assist, including custom fittings and help you order the right hardware for your hearing needs, lifestyle, and design preferences. Reach out to us today to get started.