Hearing Solutions

Hearing Aid Guide: Which Fit is Best for You?

There are many different styles of hearing aids; the choices can be overwhelming. Ultimately, you and your audiologist will decide which style is best for you depending on your hearing needs, lifestyle, and style preference.

Hearing aids are categorized by how they are worn. Here are several of the most common categories:

  1. BTEs—behind the ear—fit snugly behind your outer ear.
    a. Open Fit is a variation of a BTE hearing aid with a thin tube that keeps the ear canal open.
    b. RIC - receiver in the canal - are the smallest BTEs that also leave the ear canal open so you don't get that "plugged up" sensation.
  2. ITEs—in the ear—are custom-fitted to your outer ear’s contours.
    a. ITCs—in the canal—are smaller. They fit farther into the ear canal so they are barely visible.
    b. IICs—invisible in the canal—are the smallest ITEs. Cosmetically, they may be the most flattering, but their tiny size can be a real disadvantage in handling.

Pros & Cons of BTEs and ITEs

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids - BTEs fit snugly behind your outer ear and attach to the ear with either a custom mold or a thin tube with a flexible "dome" tip at the end that is inserted into the canal. 

Pros: Can provide significant low- and high-frequency amplification. Comfortable. Barely visible (especially the RIC hearing aids). Prevents a plugged-up feeling. Easy to insert. Compatible with most technologies. Less feedback issues because of greater separation between microphone and receiver. Easy-to-clean custom molds. Domes are disposable to help prevent wax build up.

Cons: Wax and moisture may limit life of receiver for RIC models. More sensitive to wind noise. Custom molds need to be replaced every few years. Custom molds are more visible. Dome tips need to be replaced frequently (but come in disposable packages.)

In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids - IICs (Invisible in the Canal) are the smallest ITE hearing aids. ITCs (In the Canal) are more visible than IICs but still very discreet. ITEs (In the Ear) are the largest and fit within the outer ear's contours. Because of the various sizes of ITEs, we've included pros and cons of each category:

1. Invisible-in-the-Canal Hearing Aids - Limited to mild and moderate hearing loss.

Pros: Extremely discreet. Insensitive to wind noise. Better for phone usage. Virtually no feedback.

Cons: Ear might feel plugged up unless hearing aid is vented. No directional microphone. Vulnerable to wax and moisture. Due to its size, handling may be difficult. Battery life is relatively short. 

2. In-the-Canal Hearing Aid

Pros: Molded to fit within the ear canal. Barely visible. Relatively easy to insert. Larger units can include directional microphones. Use a larger battery than IICs, so batter life is longer. 

Cons: Similar issues as IICs on a less severe scale.

3. In-the-Ear Hearing Aid

Pros: Offer more features than ITCs and IICs, such as directional microphone and volume control. Less of a "plugged-up" feeling when vented. Easy to insert.

Cons: More visible. Vulnerable to wax build-up and moisture. Feedback may be an issue.

For more information about hearing aid styles, take a look at the chart on our website. We also list the categories that best fit various lifestyles. For the latest in hearing aid technologies, you may be interested in this post about the next generation, or our post, How to Talk to Your Doctor About Hearing Aids. As always, if you have questions or would like additional details on styles and new technologies, feel free to contact us. 

It's Noisy Out There: Protect Your Hearing

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. As audiologists, we see the effects that noise has on our patients' hearing on a weekly, if not daily, basis. It's not just our patients: approximately 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-69 have hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises. 

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells that are found in our inner ear. Hair cells are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear (sound energy) into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back, causing permanent hearing loss. 

How Loud is Too Loud?

The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by prolonged exposure to any loud noise over 85 dB, or by a one-time, intense exposure to a noise like an explosion. ƒTo give you some perspective:

  • Normal conversations are around 60dB.
  • Hair dryers and blenders are 90dB.
  • Concerts, car racing and sporting events are 110 dB
  • Ambulance, police and fire sirens are 130 dB.
  • Gunshots and fireworks are 140 dB.

A good rule of thumb is that if you have to raise your voice to speak to someone an arm's length away, the surrounding noise is too loud. If you hear ringing, buzzing or experience temporary hearing loss when leaving work or a concert, the noise is too loud. Parents - if you can hear sounds from your child's headphones or earbuds while standing next to them, the volume is too loud.

Occupational Hazards

The risk for noise-induced hearing loss is especially high among factory workers, transportation workers, military personnel, construction workers, musicians and entertainers, those who work frequently with heavy machinery, and first responders. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers implement a Hearing Conservation Program if workers are exposed to an average noise level of 85 dB or higher over an 8-hour work period. According to OSHA, Hearing Conservation Programs require employers to measure noise levels, provide free annual hearing exams, free hearing protection, provide training, and conduct evaluations of the adequacy of the hearing protectors in use unless changes to tools, equipment and schedules are made less noisy and/or worker exposure to noise is less than the 85 dBA.

Hearing Protection Solutions

If you are attending a sporting event, concert, parade, fireworks show, or any other type of event, you should always pack a set of earplugs that can be purchased at your local pharmacy. This is especially true for children. 

For people who are exposed to loud noises on a daily basis, we offer custom-molded earplugs, made from medical-grade silicone. Our earplugs offer a level of comfort and protection that you won't find in standard, generic earplugs. These earplugs are vented to allow sound to pass both ways, so you don't get that "plugged up" feeling. 

If you're often having to speak over the noise in your work or leisure environments, call us for a hearing protection consultation. 

 

It's No Secret! Improved Hearing Can Better Your Life.

COMPLIMENTARY LUNCHEON:
HOW HEALTHY HEARING CONTRIBUTES TO QUALITY OF LIFE

One of the reasons we got into this field was because we understood the impact hearing has on people's lives. We wanted to give people a better quality of life by helping them hear better.

Hearing loss has been linked to feelings of depression, anxiety, social isolation and fatigue. According to the National Institutes of Health, "Only 20% of people who could benefit from a hearing aid seek intervention. Even among hearing aid users, most have lived with hearing loss for more than 10 years before seeking a hearing aid." 

We're trying to change this. What many people don't realize is how one small step - making that first appointment with a professional audiologist - can drastically change their lives for the better.

If you or someone you know has even had a fleeting thought about hearing loss, please join us for a complimentary luncheon on Wednesday, July 27, from 11 am - 1 pm at Restoration in Old Trail. Our guest speaker, Audiologist Deborah Doyle Allen, will give a brief presentation titled, "Auditory Fitness: How Healthy Hearing Contributes to Quality of Life." Dr. Allen will discuss facts about hearing loss, how we hear, how hearing loss can lead to cognitive deficit issues, how hearing aids can help, and how hearing aids work. 

We will also be there to talk with you one-on-one and answer any questions you may have related to your hearing, or the hearing of a loved one. 

To RSVP, simply click here or call us at 434.422.3202.