Hearing Aid Comparisons; Types of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are available in many shapes and styles, however, they consists mainly of 3 components.  The component which is usually placed inside a plastic case are: microphone (picks up the sounds), amplifier (conducts and filters the sound), loudspeaker (converts electrical signals into acoustic signals) and small computer (controls the features of the hearing aid).

The human hearing system comprises of 3 sections: the outer ear (ear fold and ear canal which conduct the sound), the middle ear (the eardrum transforms the sound into vibrations) and the inner ear (sends the sound to the auditory nerves). Hearing aids are situated either outside the ear or in one part of the outer ear.

The most popular categories of hearing aids are:-

  • Behind The Ear or BTE
  • In The Ear or ITE
  • In The Canal or ITC

Hearing Aid Comparisons

Here is comparison between the 3 of the most common types of hearing aids :-

Behind The Ear (BTE) versus In The Ear (ITE)

BTE is generally larger than ITE but both hearing aids are not visible when speaking face to face. BTE can only be seen from the back of the wearer while the other can be seen from the side. BTE are more powerful as they are larger and can contain multiple microphones. The ITE is less comfortable because it is situated in the ear. The BTE is in most cases the least expensive hearing aid. The batteries of the BTE last longer simply because they are cheaper and also because they are situated outside the ear in a dry environment.

ITE is not as functional and easy to use because of its smaller control buttons. The law frequency sounds which become louder if the ear canal is completely occluded are heard naturally with the BTE and that is because this type of hearing aid is not placed in the ear. The ITE is completely obstructing the entrance of the ear and low frequency sounds can be heard a lot louder, sometimes can become unbearable. This is called the occlusion effect. BTE can be used for children as they are sturdy and do not need to be changed as often as the child grows up. They are also a lot cheaper to replace.

Behind The Ear (BTE) versus In The Canal (ITC)

BTE is visible from the back and the side while ITC is almost invisible unless you look directly in the ear. The emotional comfort of ITC is a lot higher than that of the more visible BTEs. Because of the tube that goes inside the ear, people are not very comfortable with the BTE.

BTE doesn’t require any special fittings unlike in the canal hearing aid. BTE is still the most powerful hearing aid due to its location and size. The battery of the ITC will last a lot less because it is very small and also because it is functioning in a very humid environment. Due to its small size and also its invisibility, the ITC is a lot more expensive than any standard behind the ear hearing aid.  The in the canal hearing aids will not be as sturdy as their rival BTEs. Also, ITC are generally digital aids and have numerous options and settings that you can choose from. Still, the BTEs are easier to manipulate because of their size. ITC is not recommended for children because of its fragility and cost.

In The Ear (ITE) versus In The Canal (ITC)

ITE and ITC are not visible when speaking face to face. However ITE can be noticed from the side. ITE is more functional as the controls are larger and can be adjusted more easily. Both types of hearing aids have short battery life as they are small and need to operate in a really dry environment. Still, the ITE battery will last longer. ITE is much more affordable and resistant. The ear mould of the ITC needs several fitting sessions and longer accommodation period. Most ITCs have a lot of programming and compatibility options which can make your life a lot easier.

The ITC have become now almost invisible and are the best solution for the people that have refused wearing a hearing aid until now. The latest development of this type of hearing aid has made many hearing impaired people consider a hearing aid as a means to improve their hearing conditions.

The above hearing aid comparisons should help you in deciding the most suitable type for you, however do try it out before committing to purchase.