As hearing instrument technology has evolved, we have become experts in the fitting of digital hearing aids and assistive devices. We recommend the aids that are the best for your hearing loss and lifestyle, and fine tune your new aids for clear conversation and comfortable, natural sound quality. Hearing aids are only recommended after a thorough examination has been completed and any underlying medical condition that may exist is ruled-out.
Styles of Hearing Aids
IIC (Invisible in the Canal)
This is the smallest type of hearing aid made and in some ears, is almost invisible. All the components are housed in a small case that fits down deep into the ear canal. People often like this style because it is less visible and “hides” in the ear canal.
The advantages of this style is that the hearing aid utilizes the ear’s own natural sound collecting design (Pinna or outer ear) to collect and funnel the sound down to the hearing aid. The IIC aid also allows for normal telephone use most of the time and protection from wind noise as the microphone is recessed in the ear canal.
CIC (Completely in the Canal)
This is a very small type of hearing aid made and very hard to see in many ears. All the components are housed in a small case that fits down into the ear canal. Like the previous model, people often like this style because it is isn’t very visible.
The advantages of this style is similar to the IIC model for phone use and wind noise.
ITC (In the Canal)
A little bigger than the CIC, the ITC hearing aids also fit far into the ear canal. Canal hearing aids use a slightly larger battery than the CIC style. This style is used for mild to moderate hearing losses. It has the advantage of fitting deeply into the ear canal but may be more manageable by someone with reduced hand and finger dexterity.
These sizes can also accommodate directional microphones (in most cases) which help focus the sound in front of the patient and reduce the noise alongside or behind the patient. No volume controls are necessary in the ITC unit and different noise programs can be accessed by pushing a small button on the faceplate of the device.
ITE (in the Ear, Full Shell or Half Shell)
These hearing aids can be used for a wider range of hearing losses. Due to their larger size, ITEs can accommodate larger sound amplifiers and more features such as directional microphones and a memory program button.
Directional microphones help the patient focus on the sound in front and reduce the sound on the sides and behind the hearing aid listener. The memory button allows the hearing aid user to access multiple memories that process the incoming sound differently. They are also easier to handle. These larger styles have more options for telephone use.
BTE (Behind the Ear)
In BTE hearing aids, the electronics are housed in a case that fits behind the ear. Tubing and a custom made earmold direct the sound to the ear canal. Due to its robust design, this style is especially recommended for children.
BTE hearing aids can provide more amplification than smaller devices due to the stronger amplifier and the larger battery. This style is available in several colors for hair and skin tone matching. The behind the ear unit can also be equipped with directional microphones to help focus the sound in front of the person and minimize the sound beside and behind the person. The units also can have multiple memories included in the design, so that the user can go to a different noise program (via a button on the unit) that reduces background noise and makes speech easier to understand in certain listening environments.
Open Ear Technology
For millions of Americans with mild to moderate high frequency hearing loss, new “Open Ear” technology offers many advantages over traditional hearing aid fitting approaches. Typically older technology would block the normal hearing ranges while trying to boost the high frequency regions (2 to 6kHz). The result left the hearing aid user with a plugged up sensation that made wearing hearing aids almost intolerable.
In the world of open fittings, true useable gain is the foundation of speech intelligibility. This type of fitting, keeps the ear open to lower-pitched sounds that don’t need amplification. Help can be delivered to the high frequency consonant regions because acoustic feedback can now be better controlled by digital feedback suppression routines that are the hallmark of “open fitting” technologies. The small processor, thin wire and hidden receiver are cosmetically appealing. The improved clarity, especially in the presence of background noise, is a welcome benefit.