OHSU

Technology

Digital Hearing Aids and Styles

Hearing aids have changed significantly over the past several years. Thanks to digital technology, hearing aids are getting smaller and more discreet. Digital technology is the most sophisticated and provides the most accurate and natural sound quality for the listener. All the hearing aids recommended at SoundSource are digital.

Due to the advancement of the hearing aid technology, we are able to put better features inside of the hearing aids. The latest features allow for better understanding in noise, reduction of feedback, and also allowing a more ‘open fit’ for a more natural sound quality.

There are several different hearing aid manufacturers. SoundSource purchases directly from the manufacturers and has access to any brand. One brand might work for one person, but might not be the best option for someone else. While recommending and picking out hearing aid technology and style, our staff takes several factors into consideration:

  • Lifestyle: How active are you and how active do you WANT to be?
  • Hearing loss: Certain styles of hearing aids work better with different types of hearing loss.
  • Your dexterity and eye sight to optimize ease of use.

Hearing Aid StylesThere are three basic styles of hearing aids. The styles differ by size, their placement on or inside the ear, and the degree to which they amplify sound.

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids consist of a plastic case worn behind the ear and connected to a silicone earmold that fits inside the ear. The electronic parts are held in the case (hearing aid) behind the ear. Sound travels from the hearing aid through the earmold and into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages and are appropriate for mild to profound hearing loss.

A new kind of BTE aid is an open-fit hearing aid. Small, open-fit aids fit behind the ear completely, with only a narrow tube inserted into the ear canal, enabling the canal to remain much more open. Most people prefer the open-fit hearing aid because their own voice does not sound plugged up. Open fit hearing aids are appropriate for a mild to moderately-severe hearing loss.

  • In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids fit inside the ear canal and fill part of the outer ear. The case holding the electronic components is made of hard plastic. Most ITE hearing aids can have the same amount of features the BTE hearing aid has. ITE hearing aids are appropriate for a mild to severe hearing loss.

 

  • Canal aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two styles. The in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid is made to fit the size and shape of a person’s ear canal. A completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid is nearly hidden in the ear canal and fits much deeper. Both types are used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

Because they are small, canal aids have less space available for batteries and certain features. They usually are not recommended for people with severe to profound hearing loss because their reduced size limits their power and volume.