Hearing aid technology has made great advances in recent years. Many people feel a hearing aid of any kind; either behind the ear or in the ear is unsightly. But in many cases hearing aids are now so small they are virtually unnoticeable.
The Shell is simply the plastic housing. It changes depending on whether you want your hearing aid to mount behind your ear, in your ear or completely in your ear canal.
The Circuit refers to the computer technology that is programmed into the hearing aid. Hearing Aid Circuits with lots of features, automation modes and abilities in complex noise situations cost more than those with few features.
Audia Hearing Care Centre offers many different kinds of hearing aid Shells and Circuits, including the latest digital Circuit technologies. We are confident we can find a good match for you.
A number of hearing aid shell styles are available to the consumer, as follows:
IIC (Invisible In the Canal)
These instruments are the smallest size of hearing aids, practically invisible to an observer. Custom designed to fit the wearer’s ear, IIC hearing aids fit deep inside the ear canal and most closely resemble the natural hearing process.
IIC hearing aids are meant for people with ear canals large enough to accommodate the device’s deep insertion into the ear and for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. They are not usually recommended for people with dexterity problems because they are very small instruments with tiny batteries.
The CIC is very small, like the IIC, without going so deep in the ear canal. CICs are for people with greater hearing loss than the power range of IICs. CICs meet the mild to moderately-severe hearing loss patient who still wants the “invisible” appearance. CICs also work well for people whose ear canals are too narrow deeper down to fit an IIC.
The terms IIC and CIC designate a size of hearing aids, but do not describe the circuit inside the shell. IIC and CIC instruments can have any of the various levels of digital sound processing technology housed within their tiny casing, but because of their size, they do not always have as many features as larger aids, such as external volume controls, or tele-coils for assisting with hearing on the telephone.
ITC (In The Canal)
These hearing aids are slightly larger than CICs, but still very small. Like CICs, ITCs also require a customized shell taken from an impression of the user’s ear. All of the electronics are within the shell of the device. With the larger size comes more amplification, greater ease of getting them in/out of the ears, especially for people with dexterity problems and larger batteries, contributing to longer run times.
ITE hearing aids can be used for a wide range of hearing losses. Due to their size, ITE hearing aids allow for larger receivers, which enables the hearing aid to provide greater volume and more features such as an automatic telephone coil, which allows individuals with severe hearing losses to use the telephone without feedback (whistling). Since they are larger in size, they are easier to handle for those with dexterity problems. This type of hearing aid fills the outer ear. The hearing aid case is custom-made of a hard plastic material. As shown, the hearing aid case houses all of the electronic hearing aid parts. The ITE style is available with the various levels of digital technology. ITE hearing aids have a bigger battery, which means a longer run time than smaller hearing aids.
Open Fit (also known as RIC or Receiver-In-Canal)
By far the most popular hearing aid available, the Open Fit aid fits snugly behind the ear. Rather than trying to blend in with skin-tone-coloured shells, it comes in funky colours to help you set your own personal fashion statement. Its narrow tube running to the ear is practically invisible. Another great benefit is the earpiece inserted into the ear canal is round. It does not need to be custom molded and comes in different sizes to fit different widths of ear canals. The Open Fit hearing aid leaves the ear canal more open, making it ideal for those with mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss.
The BTE is the classic hearing instrument that we’ve all known for decades. BTEs hook over the ear and a sound tube guides the amplified sound to a custom ear mold fitted specifically for the wearer’s ear. While this is the largest and most visible type of hearing aid, it is also the most powerful, the easiest to keep clear of earwax and often the easiest to adjust. Patients with severe to profound hearing losses often have no choice in style; the big BTE is all that will meet their loss.
BTE hearing aids can be utilized with external assistive listening systems such as auditory training equipment, infrared listening systems, FM systems, devices for telephone use, or television amplifying systems.
The advanced Circuit technologies being offered in hearing aids today are truly astounding. Here are some of the advanced capabilities of these devices:
Hearing aids can now guide the wearer to where the sound is coming from.
Hands-Free Cell Phone Listening
Some hearing aids can use the Bluetooth wireless feature of your cell phone to send your caller’s voice directly to the hearing aid, just as the cell phone sends the signal to a Bluetooth hands-free headset. This convenient feature is a great help particularly when using the cell phone in a noisy situation.
Continuous Sound Field Monitoring
Hearing aids continuously monitor noise levels versus speech and other desirable sounds and automatically change the way desirable sound is presented to the wearer as the wearer moves through different sound situations. This ensures optimal sound presentation without any manual intervention by the wearer.
Recognizing Speech in Noisy Environments
Hearing aids can distinguish speech from other sounds and amplify the speech selectively from other noises.
Whistle & Echo Blocking
Some situations cause whistling and echo feedback, such as in concert halls, gymnasiums and other large spaces where sound can reverberate off the walls. Hearing aids can now distinguish these unpleasant artificial sounds from desirable sounds and block the undesirable ones from being amplified.
Sharp Sound Reduction
Hearing aids can distinguish sharp, abrupt noises like a door banging, someone hammering or dishes clattering together and suppress these abrupt sounds instead of passing them to the wearer. This greatly enhances the comfort of a hearing aid wearer over persons with normal hearing, because the normal hearing person must listen to the sharp, disturbing sounds at their regular volume.
Fiddling with batteries is not easy for people with dexterity challenges. Rechargeables have come a long way from the first ones seen in hearing aids, ones that did not last the full day. Now, rechargeable batteries in hearing aids will last more than one day’s charge, leaving patients confident that their hearing aids will be working well into the night, when many people are enjoying the Theater, the Opera, or a party with friends.
Feature sets vary by manufacturer
Audia Hearing Care will advise you on the different types and help you select the hearing aid with the feature set that most closely matches your desires.