For many patients, hearing aids are the key to unlocking a higher quality of life and restoring their ability to hear. Perhaps you’ve noticed a decline in the quality of your hearing, or a recent doctor’s visit has resulted in the recommendation for hearing aids.
Or, maybe you’re hoping that digital hearing aids may be a way to improve the life of a loved one dealing with hearing loss. Whatever the case may be, this easy-to-use guide can help you understand how digital hearing aids work, the different options available, and more.
How Do Hearing Aids Help You Hear?
Essentially, a hearing aid receives sound (such as speech and other noises) through its microphone, sending the sound waves to an amplifier. The amplifier then increases the signals’ power, sending them through a speaker to the wearer’s ear. A hearing aid’s specific process depends largely on whether it is an analog or digital device.
Analog Versus Digital Hearing Devices
When choosing a hearing aid, there are two main types to consider:
A conventional analog hearing aid equally amplifies speech and other noise, with some models offering the ability to slightly differentiate the sounds. This type of hearing aid is not commonly used anymore and may actually be difficult to find, although in more recent times the Over-The-Counter “hearing aids” are similar in the sense that they are not specifically programmable.
A digitally programmable hearing aid uses an internal computer chip to analyze sound waves based on a high-tech algorithm, making it capable of detecting whether an incoming sound is speech related or another noise. As a result, this type specifically amplifies speech and minimizes unnecessary background noise. Another benefit of this type is the ability to program the device to match your specific hearing issue.
Components of Digital Hearing Aids
In general, the following electronic components are found on most models of digital hearing aids:
● Miniature speaker/receiver
● Battery (regular or rechargeable)
● Function/program switch
● Wax guards
You Can Tell an Aid’s Style by Its Three Initials
Hearing aids are typically labeled with three distinct initials that indicate where the specific device is intended to be worn.
BTE (Behind The Ear) aids measure a bit larger than one inch long and rest behind your outer ear. It will have tubing that goes down and attaches to a custom ear mold.
RICs / RITEs-
RIC (Receiver In the Canal / Receiver In The Ear) aids are usually smaller and less visible than BTEs, using a receiver wire in your ear canal and connected to a processor behind your ear. This is the most commonly used hearing device at this time.
ITEs, ITCs, CICs & IICs-
ITE (In The Ear) aids are custom-designed to perfectly fit the contours of your outer ear. This is the largest of the custom products. ITC (In The Canal) aids are a smaller version of ITEs, designed to sit deeper within the ear canal. CIC (Completely In the Canal) is the smallest type of ITE, fitting completely within your ear canal. IIC (Invisible In the Canal) are truly the smallest style of aids and are generally not visible to the naked eye, depending on the size of the canal.
What Should You Know About Batteries?
All types of hearing aids require batteries, and it’s important to be prepared for the regular replacement cost and proper replacement procedure. You’ll need to learn what type of batteries are used in your specific hearing aid, as well as how to go about replacing the batteries when necessary.
There are some hearing aids that use rechargeable batteries, which can be extremely convenient and reduce replacement time and costs significantly. Turning off the hearing aid when it’s not in use can help extend the battery life and save you money in the long run.
Learn More About How Hearing Aids Can Help You
Interested in learning more about hearing aid technology and how it can make a difference in your life or the life of a loved one? Memorial Hearing specializes in the treatment of hearing impairments and can provide one-on-one consultation and personalized suggestions for hearing aid solutions.