Compassionate and Professional Hearing Healthcare

What Are the Different Types of Hearing Aids?

a hearing loss patient is perusing a selection of hearing aids

If you suffer from hearing problems, you probably have considered using hearing aids. Besides having an appealing look, you want a hearing aid that is useful and functional. Hearing aids help people with a variety of hearing deficits. Most hearing devices come with a microphone that picks up sound, as well as an amplifier circuitry that makes the sound louder. Some devices have built-in headphones for directing the flow of the sound and improving sound quality. The choice of hearing aids depends on your particular type of hearing damage, as well as which equipment fits your lifestyle.

The Basic Types of Hearing Aids

There is no universal device that will satisfy the expectations of all individuals. Hearing aids vary by type of technology, the specific design, and the varying special features. The four basic types of hearing aids include:

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE) Aids:  The BTE device contains a plastic case that is connected to a headset by a piece of clear tubing. This device is very useful for children because it can connect to different earmold types that follow the child’s growth.
  • "Mini" Behind-the-ear (BTE) Aids and On-the-ear (OTE) Aids:  The Mini BTE and OTE aids can be placed either behind the ear or right on the ear. These devices are smaller than regular BTE types. Mini’s and OTEs have traditional earmold structures for comfortable insertion. These hearing aids reduce feedback and address cosmetic concerns for many users.
  • In-the-Ear (ITE) Aids:  With ITEs, the device is placed in a shell that fits inside the outer ear. ITE aids are adaptable for people who prefer a large hearing device.
  • In-the-Canal (ITC) Aids and Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) Aids:  Both of these devices are positioned in small cases that partially or fully contain the ear canal. ITCs and CICs both are much smaller than the other hearing aid types. However, due to their small size, they could be difficult to handle for some people.

Types of Hearing Aid Features

When it comes to hearing aid special features, there are many options available. Some of the hearing aid features are:

Directional Microphones: These tiny devices are useful in noisy environments because they allow amplification of the sound. When the sound emerges from a particular direction, directional microphones allow that sound to be heard instead of other noise in the immediate area.

T-Coil (Telephone Switch):  Corded phones now can connect to a hearing aid by way of a T-Coil device. Also called a telephone switch, this special feature allows the user to eliminate sounds from the environment while reinforcing the sounds from the phone. T-Coil works in many environments, and this device comes with a microphone/telephone switch (called a M/T) that helps you listen to conversations easily.

Direct Audio Input:  This device can be incorporated into a remote microphone or FM assistive listening system. The applications of this device allow connection to the TV, computer, radio, and more.

Feedback Suppression:  This hearing aid feature helps suppress high pitched sounds and squeals that often occur when a hearing aid gets too close to the phone.

There are many varieties of hearing aids from which you can select. Consult your audiologist to find the most appropriate type of device for you. Because it may be confusing which style and type of hearing aid you need, your audiologist can specify which is right for your particular hearing deficit. Also, the many features available are quite confusing, and a uniquely trained audiologist can direct you on what methods to meet your individual hearing needs.