There are many hearing aid types to assist the hearing impaired. With all the options available it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. There are several things to consider when purchasing a new hearing aid system, mostly involving style and size preference and price range.
All hearing aid types work basically the same way with their purpose being to amplify sound and carry it directly into the ear canal. They differ mostly in the way that they are worn on or in the ear. Some fit on the outside of the ear and only partially inside it, while others are small enough to be worn completely inside the ear canal, making them virtually undetectable. The smaller ones may be more attractive, but keep in mind that typically the smaller they are in size, the less power and battery life they contain at a higher price than their larger alternatives.
Entirely Inside the Ear Canal vs. Mostly Inside the Ear Canal
Hearing aids can be specially molded to fit perfectly and completely inside your unique ear canal. The benefits of such a system are that they are the least noticeable to the eye, they cut down tremendously on wind detection, and they are perfect for telephone use. Some disadvantages, however, are their small batteries that do not hold much of a charge comparably, and their lack of ability to hold special features like directional microphones, which pick up sounds directly in front of you better than peripheral or background noises and user-controlled volume.
Another option on the less visibly obvious end of the scale is a hearing aid system that fit mostly inside the ear canal, just not quite as deeply as those mentioned above. These also make telephone use easy and can fit some of the extra features that smaller ones cannot. The downside to these is that the features can be difficult to adjust because they are so tiny. There are also complaints by those with smaller ears that they do not fit quite right. Both of these systems are meant to aid mild to moderate adult hearing impairment.
Half Shell vs. Full Shell
Half shell hearing aids are custom fitted to fill the lower section of the bowl-shaped region of the outer ear. They are fully equipped with all the useful controls and are much easier to operate than smaller versions, and they easily fit in almost any ear shape or size. Half shell systems can help with mild to moderately severe cases of hearing impairment.
Full shell systems are also custom fitted to your ear. They fill the majority of the bowl-shaped outer ear region. They are also fully equipped, controls are very easy to operate, their larger battery size can hold a charge for much longer and they are easy to handle. Negative aspects of these are that they are larger and therefore more noticeable, and that they sometimes pick up on more wind noise than others. They can be used to correct mild to severe hearing impairment.
Behind the Ear Styles
This type of hearing aid sits behind the ear and hooks over the top of the ear to carry sound to a mold inside the ear. There are two kinds: traditional and open fit. Traditional behind the ear systems are generally the most functional hearing aid system available. They are capable of more sound amplification than all other systems on the market. They are larger and easier to see, but some newer models show a significant decrease in size. They can be used for nearly all types of hearing loss at any age.
Open fit devices are a smaller version. They fit and work basically the same way as traditional behind the ear systems, but they are less visually noticeable. Because they are fairly small, though, they lack user controls and features and have a relatively low battery life. These systems leave the ear canal open, unlike inside the ear models, and are best suited for those with mild to moderate high-frequency impairment with low-frequency hearing capabilities still basically intact.
For more severe cases of hearing impairment, a cochlear implant system may be a better option. As opposed to just amplifying sound and carrying it into the ear canal, cochlear implants are electronic devices that convert sound waves into electrical pulses that then directly stimulate your auditory nerve. Your brain receives the signals from the auditory nerve and interprets them as sounds. Successful use of these devices takes quite a bit of training and practice. Children seem to get the best results out of them because they are usually able to adapt to them with more ease and fluidity than adults.
Hearing aids do not make your hearing perfect again and they take some getting used to, but with a little time the more adjusted and appreciative you will become.
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