Purchasing a hearing aid may seem complicated, with all the different types of hearing loss and the wide range of hearing aids on the market. A little aid advice may help you through the process to better hearing. In order to make the hearing aid choice easier, rely on your hearing professionals, such as your hearing aid specialist.

Your specific type and severity of hearing loss must first be diagnosed. At that point, medical professionals can narrow hearing device choices based on the diagnosis, your physical characteristics and unique listening needs. Your ability (or desire) to handle small items should also be considered when selecting your aids.

Here are the basic types available:

• Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing units are worn hooked over the ear and joined with a slender tube to an earpiece. The aid detects sound and amplifies it. The sound is then transferred to an ear mold inside the ear canal. These aids work well for the majority of hearing loss types in children as well as adults. BTEs provide more amplification than other aids and they’re getting smaller as technology advances. RITE (Receiver-in-the-ear) hearing aids are less visible, smaller versions of the BTE.

• In-the-ear (ITE) devices fit over the bowl of the ear and a portion of the ear canal and can help people with mild, moderate or severe hearing loss. These full-shell aids are custom-fit, filling most of the outer ear’s bowl area. Because of the area they cover, ITEs can be easier to see and easily affected by wind noise. On the plus side, their larger size makes them simpler to hold and insert. They also use bigger batteries that last longer.

• In-the-canal (ITC) aids are small ITEs, sometimes referred to as half-shell hearing aids which can work well for those with mild or moderately severe hearing loss. These can include handy features that just don’t fit on CIC hearing aids, but they can be hard to set and adjust. The ITC might not fit properly in small ears.

• Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) aids are the nearest to invisible. This style is not vulnerable to wind noise since your ear surrounds and protects the aid. CICs are also good to use with your phone. Keep in mind that they do take smaller batteries which burn out sooner than the larger ones. They generally have basic features only.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/july-2009/health/hearing-aids/how-to-buy-a-hearing-aid/hearing-aids-how-to-buy-a-hearing-aid.htm;
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hearing-aids/HQ00812;
http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/buyingHearingAid.cfm

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