Hearing Aids

All about hearing aids

Hearing aids are small electronic devices designed to fit inside or behind your ear. In general, hearing aids make sounds louder, but some advanced hearing aids have ways of processing sounds to help people with hearing loss to hear and communicate better. Hearing aids work best for people with mild to severe hearing loss, but when hearing aids are no longer enough, a cochlear implant or a direct bone conduction system may be able to help.

Hearing Aid Styles

There are two different categories of hearing aids: Behind the Ear (BTE) and Custom design. The best one for you depends on your individual preferences and needs. The two categories of hearing aids are determined by where the hearing aid electronics are stored. For the BTE design, the electronics are stored behind the ear in a one-size-fits-all shell, which is attached to an ear mold placed in the ear canal. The Custom design houses all the hearing aid electronics in a custom made shell designed specifically to fit inside each individual’s ear. With a Custom design hearing aid, the hearing healthcare professional will create an ear mold of your ear from which the custom hearing aid is made. A CROS hearing aid is for people with hearing loss in only one ear. This means the person has relatively normal hearing in the good side and hearing that can't be helped on the bad side. A BTE device is placed on the bad side and transmits sound to a BTE device on the good side allowing the person to hear sounds from the bad side. Another similar device is a BICROS, which is for a person with little or no hearing on one side and with some hearing loss in their better ear. A BICROS works just like a CROS, except that the device on the better ear is actually a fully capable hearing aid. This means that the hearing aid is capable of making sounds louder and receiving the sound transmitted from the BTE device on the bad side.

Behind the Ear Design (BTE)

  • Who:
  • Design/size:
    • The BTE shell is typically about one inch long, fits securely behind your outer ear and houses the hearing aid electronics
    • A small tube connects the BTE shell with an ear mold, or dome, that delivers sound into your ear canal
    • Larger in size
      • Size allows for more power and listening features
      • May be a more visible style of hearing aid
  • Costs:*
    • May be less expensive than Custom design hearing aids
  • Product types:
    • Category includes Receiver-in-the-Canal (RIC) and Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids

 

Custom Design

  • Who:
  • Design/size:
    • Custom fitted to the shape of your ear canal
    • Smaller in size 
      • Due to limitations on battery size, may not be powerful enough for severe to profound hearing loss
      • Due to smaller size, may have limited listening features
  • Costs:*
    • May be more expensive than BTE design hearing aids
  • Product types:
    • Category includes Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC), In-the-Canal (ITC) and In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids

 

CROS or BICROS (Includes BTE and Custom design options)

  • Who: 
    • A CROS hearing aid is for people with hearing loss in only one ear. This means the person has relatively normal hearing in the good side and hearing that can't be helped on the bad side. Similarly, a BICROS is for a person with little or no hearing on one side and with some hearing loss in their better ear. Both types of hearing loss are often referred to as Single Sided Deafness or unilateral hearing loss.
  • Design: 
    • Placed on the hearing impaired side to gather sound, which is then transmitted through a wire (or wirelessly via a radio signal) to a microphone worn on the normal ear
  • Costs:*
    • May be less expensive than Custom hearing aids and are often times priced similarly to Behind-the-Ear hearing aids.

If you think you may have a hearing loss or you have a hearing aid but feel that you are not receiving enough benefit, take our Hearing Quiz to find out what type of treatment may be best for you.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical advice. Please consult a hearing healthcare professional.

*The costs are based upon general product types, but may fluctuate based upon specific product types and market fluctuations.

References: 1. AARP. Consumer Guide to Hearing Aids. Available from http://assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/articles/health/docs/hearing_guide.pdf. Accessed February 2012.