Listening Aids For The Hard Of Hearing

Since their invention, listening aids for hard of hearing have gone through many changes concerning their method of operation, size and possible ways to wear them. Nowadays the hard of hearing can choose between different types of devices, depending on their degree of hearing loss and individual preferences and requirements.

Behind the ear (BTE)

BTE listening aids are the largest in size compared to some other types of hearing aids but can be just as discreet. Their main components (a battery, microphone, electronics, remote control, etc.) are stored in a plastic case, which is placed behind the ear. The case is connected through an ear hook to an ear mould which fits into the ear. There are also even tiny BTE listening aids called "open-fit" or "over the ear". The tube going into the ear canal is thinner and the ear mould is replaced by a small dome or a tiny tip made of a soft material. The case behind the ear is also a more favourable size than the one in a standard BTE. The possibility to choose between the two devices depends on the severity of the sufferer's condition and whether they need amplification of low or high frequency sounds. One of the best advantages of both devices is the possibility to keep the case, holding the most important parts of the listening aid, clean and protected from the natural moisture and wax in the ear.

In the ear (ITE)

These listening aids are small, almost invisible and can either fully fit into the outer ear bowl or just fill it partly. The device's components are enclosed in a plastic shell that is custom made for each individual. ITEs are suitable for people with mild to severe hearing loss and are relatively easy to operate and insert in the ear. Their size still allows the inclusion of useful features such as a directional microphone or volume control.

In the canal (ITC)

ITC listening aids are even smaller than the ITEs and due to their placement predominantly in the ear canal and only partly in the ear bowl, are practically invisible to other people. The shell of the device is again custom made, but can be more difficult to handle and adjust. ITC listening aids are more discreet and light in weight, but also more expensive.

Completely in the canal (CIC)

This is the least visible type of listening aid and the possibility to use it depends on both the level of hearing loss and the individual structure and size of the ear canal of the person. The insertion of the device in the canal is performed with a cord and can be challenging for some individuals. Due to their small size, these devices are characterised with a short battery life and provide less possibilities for additional features.

Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA)

These little devices are suitable for people who due to different reasons (infections in the ear canal, malformations, single sided deafness, etc.) cannot benefit from BTE or ITE listening aids. The main components are an implant placed onto the skull behind the ear and a small visible abutment containing a sound processing device, which stays on the surface of the skin. The aim of the baha is to conduct the sounds through the bone directly to the inner ear.