Hearing Aid Styles
In general, there are 4 basic styles of hearing aids... Behind the Ear (BTE), In the Ear (ITE), In the Canal (ITC), Completely in the Canal (CIC). There are variations on the four basic styles. Your hearing healthcare professional (audiologist or hearing instrument dispenser) will work with you to help you decide on the best style for you, based on your needs and desires.
There are bascially two levels of hearing aid technology; analog and digital.
ANALOG technology has been around for many decades. Analog technology offers limited capability, but is sometimes perfect for specific purposes.
DIGITAL technology is the most sophisticated hearing aid technology. Digital technology gives the audiologist maximum control over sound quality and sound processing characteristics. As of 2005, the OVERALL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION ratings of new hearing aids (which are essentially 90 percent digital) is 77 percent!
There is qualitative and quantitative evidence that digital instruments outperform analog hearing aids. Digitals are not perfect, but they work extremely well -- However, not all digital hearing aids are the same! Within the "digital" world, there are better and lesser units...speak with your audiologist to be sure you're getting the right one for you. I ALWAYS recommend digital hearing aids, unless there is a compelling reason to recommend a specific analog product.
Many people ask about pricing relating to digitals. It is important to know that thanks to the integration of digital products across hearing healthcare, better, faster, more reliable and less expensive digital hearing aids are the 'norm.'
Find more information on the new FDA web page about hearing aids.
Terry Snook, Au.D