Types of Hearing Aids & Features Available

Is your hearing not quite as good as it used to be? Hearing is essential for ensuring your quality of life. It helps to keep your mind sharp while staying connected with those around you. 

Hearing aids can help you unlock a new world of sound. But with so many different types of hearing aids available, it’s important to find a style that works best for you. Here’s an overview of how hearing aids work and the different types of hearing aids available. 

How do hearing aids work?

Hearing aids are electronic devices designed to help individuals with hearing loss. Most hearing aids comprise several key components, including a microphone to pick up environmental sounds, an amplifier to increase signal strength and sophisticated digital signal processing (DSP) chips which allow for more precise customisation of the sound.

As the hearing aids capture sound, the processed signals are sent to a receiver, which then converts them back into audible sound waves that are delivered into the ear canal. Powered by batteries, hearing aids often include user-adjustable features like volume control and program settings to make them more comfortable. 

More advanced hearing aid models may have microprocessors for adaptive functions, like reducing background noise and enhancing speech intelligibility. The entire system is housed in a customised shell that’s designed to fit comfortably in or around the ear. 

When it comes to selecting hearing aids, it’s essential to have hearing aids fitted and programmed by a licensed clinician. That way, you know your hearing aids will meet your specific hearing needs. 

Different types of hearing aids

There are several types of hearing aids, each designed to meet different hearing loss needs and lifestyle preferences. There are four main types of hearing aids, including in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, receiver-in-canal (RIC) and in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids. 

Here’s an overview of the different types of hearing aids and their unique features.

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids

ITE hearing aids are custom-moulded to fit within the outer portion of the ear. They are visible in the ear but less conspicuous than BTEs. ITEs house all components in a single unit and are suitable for mild to severe hearing loss.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids

This style of hearing aid consists of a casing worn behind the ear, housing the electronic components. A tube connects the casing to a customised earmold or an earpiece that fits into the ear canal. BTEs are versatile and suitable for various degrees of hearing loss and age groups.

Receiver-in-Canal (RIC)

RIC hearing aids are similar to BTEs but with a smaller casing. The receiver is placed inside the ear canal, which is connected to the main unit by a thin wire. This design allows for a more natural sound and is suitable for mild to severe hearing loss.

In-the-canal (ITC)

ITC hearing aids, are smaller and fit partly or entirely into the ear canal, making them less noticeable than other hearing aids. They’re suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss. Because of their small size, ITC hearing aids are often limited in terms of the inclusion of certain features and advanced technology compared to larger hearing aid styles. 

Invisible hearing aids

Invisible hearing aids are custom-made to fit comfortably in your ear canal. Although this style of hearing aid is incredibly discreet, it still provides a high-quality hearing experience. With that said, they’re generally recommended for individuals with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

Hearing aid features

Thanks to modern technology, many hearing aids now come with additional features that enhance their functionality, like Bluetooth connectivity and rechargeable batteries. Some of the more advanced hearing aid technology can offer additional stand out features such as; fall detection, remote care, 2-way audio, health monitoring and waterproof capabilities.

Bluetooth hearing aids

Bluetooth hearing aids are a type of hearing device that incorporates Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect with other electronic devices, like smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions. This technology allows users to stream audio directly from these devices to their hearing aids and adjust their hearing aid settings on their smartphones, helping to enhance their listening experience in various situations.

Rechargeable hearing aids

Rechargeable hearing aids are devices that use built-in rechargeable batteries instead of traditional disposable batteries. These hearing aids can be charged using a charging dock or a power adapter, eliminating the need for regular battery replacements. Some rechargeable hearing aids provide up to 24 hours of power from a single charge. Rechargeable hearing aids are available in various styles, including Behind-the-Ear (BTE), Receiver-in-Canal (RIC), and In-the-Ear (ITE). Plus, they’re suitable for a range of hearing loss types.

Noise Reduction

Noise reduction in hearing aids is not merely about lowering the volume of ambient sounds. Instead, it involves sophisticated algorithms and signal processing techniques designed to differentiate between speech and unwanted noise. By analysing incoming sound signals in real-time, these advanced systems can distinguish between the primary speech signal and background noise, effectively reducing the interference caused by environmental sounds.

Directional Microphones

For many with hearing loss, navigating conversations in noisy environments can be incredibly challenging. Typically, conversations occur face-to-face, while distracting background noise emanates from various directions. Modern digital hearing aids tackle this issue by employing multiple microphones, detecting the differences in sound arrival times despite their close proximity. By prioritising sounds from the front, these aids offer heightened amplification for forward-facing speech and reduce amplification for surrounding and rear sounds. Directional microphones, especially beneficial in places like restaurants, significantly enhance the wearer’s ability to follow conversations amidst noise.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current hearing aids, explore your options or book in for a free hearing check, iHear is here to help. Get in touch with our team today to chat about your hearing challenges and learn more about how iHear can help you on your journey to better hearing.