Hearing Aids: What Types And Options Are Available? | Hearing Solutions
A fulfilling life means being able to go wherever you want without being restricted due to hearing loss. Statistics show that nearly half of Canadians aged 40 to 79 experience mild hearing loss . Hearing aids are available in all shapes and sizes, but with so many models, styles and technologies available, it can be confusing to choose the hearing aid that’s right for you.
This article will help you decide on the best hearing aid that meets the requirements of your lifestyle and level of hearing loss. Although we can walk you through the different types and options available, the next most important step would be to find a good audiologist to help you explore hearing aid models that would suit you. We can help make sure your hearing aids are optimized to work with you, and we will follow up with your progress as you adapt to your new hearing capabilities.
How do hearing devices work?
Besides amplifying your ability to hear, hearing aids and other hearing devices can also:
- Emphasize sounds coming from different directions;
- Differentiate between types of sound;
- Reduce noise;
- And compress certain frequencies.
All of this is done by the hearing aid automatically. It can adapt to and recognize sounds in any environment or situation that the wearer is in.
Types of Hearing Loss
The type or level of hearing loss you have will point you in the right direction to finding the best hearing aid solution for you. Hearing loss is determined by where the issue is located anatomically in your ear; inner, middle, or outer. There are three categories used to describe hearing loss by location:
- Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss arises because sound cannot travel through the outer or middle ear. It can be caused by fluid, earwax or ear infections. It’s usually temporary and can be treated with medicine or surgery.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss occurs when there are issues with the inner ear and is usually permanent. Common causes are age, noise and genetics .
- Mixed Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss refers to a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
It’s common for only one ear to be affected by hearing loss or for two ears to be affected in varying degrees. If hearing loss is persistent in only one ear, this is called single-sided hearing loss, unilateral hearing loss (UHL) or single-sided deafness (SSD) if the hearing loss is severe. This type of hearing loss is treated differently than where both ears are affected. There are special hearing solutions that can help wirelessly transmit sound to the ear with better hearing.
Tinnitus is a common condition that causes ringing in the ears. Although ringing isn’t the only symptom, tinnitus can also cause whistling, buzzing, chirping and other sounds. It is usually treated using sound therapy, where an array of special sounds are utilized to make tinnitus less noticeable.
Hearing Aid Types
Hearing aids can be found in a large range of designs for every type of hearing impairment or hearing loss, all from a variety of manufacturers. All of this variety helps you find a hearing aid solution that can be adapted to your personal preferences and expectations
Your audiologist can help recommend a hearing solution for you based on your unique level of hearing loss, ear shape and lifestyle. The most common hearing aid types include:
- Behind-the-Ear (BTE)
- Receiver-in-Canal (RIC)
- In-the-Ear (ITE)
- Invisible-in-Canal (IIC)
This is the most familiar type of hearing aid available. BTE aids are usually held in a durable case that rests on the back of your outer ear. BTE aids are suitable for the largest range of hearing loss, which can include severe profound hearing loss. The larger sizes of BTEs can give the wearer more power and features, whereas the smallest ones are mini BTEs that can be practically invisible when worn
RIC aids have an open-fit design that uses a thin plastic “micro” tube extending from the body of the hearing aid over the outer ear and ear canal. It will sit behind the ear, and a small soft tip fits inside the ear canal without sealing it. Its design allows air and sound to continue to travel through the ear canal naturally and helps the wearer reduce feelings of being “plugged up”.
In-the-ear hearing aids can refer to larger one-piece hearing aids. These aids will fill the whole bowl of the ear and house all of the components in a single, custom-fitted piece. These are a good option for wearers looking for an easy-to-use device that’s also discreet.
Invisible hearing aids are inserted directly into the ear canal but can be easily removed using a string attached to the device. These are a great choice for those who lead a moderate to a heavy active lifestyle or if you do not want your hearing aids to be visible. While this type of hearing aid is popular, they are sometimes not the best choice for wearers with severe or profound hearing loss because IICs cannot provide the same power that larger models do.
What is the difference between digital and analog hearing aids?
Hearing aids come in analog or digital forms, but many of the newer devices are digital. The only difference between the two is the way they process signals.
Analog hearing aids pick up signals in the surrounding environment and then reproduces and amplifies them via loudspeaker. Analog devices cannot filter out or reduce noises.
Digital hearing aids convert surrounding sounds into electronic information, and only major signals will be amplified and transmitted. Digital hearing aids can reduce loud ambient sounds so the wearer can hear better in noisy environments.
 Statistics Canada. (2019, August). Unperceived hearing loss among Canadians aged 40 to 79. Pamela L. Ramage-Morin, Rex Banks, Dany Pineault and Maha Atrach. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2019008/article/00002-eng.htm
 Age-Related Hearing Loss (Presbycusis). (2021). Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/presbycusis#:%7E:text=Age%2Drelated%20hearing%20loss%20