Hearing Aids: What it Means and the Different Types Available on the Market

Hearing Aids
Photo by oksix – yayimages.com

The picture above shows devices called hearing aids. These are small electronic apparatuses attached to the back of the ear or on the inside. A person with a hearing impairment can use hearing aids to vastly improve their hearing faculties. Besides overcoming their impediment, it allows users to communicate and participate in mundane activities like a casual conversation. In the United States alone, there are almost 38 million individuals who suffer from hearing loss. Using this instrument can greatly enhance the quality of life for those who live with this defect.

How They Work

A hearing aid has three fundamental components:

  1. Microphone: picks up the sound in proximity
  2. Amplified: makes the sound resounding
  3. Receiver: Transmits these sounds into the ear

The microphone converts the sounds waves in the environment to electrical signals which are circulated to the amplifier, which augments the potency of these signals and sends them to the receiver, which completes its main purpose.

Just how effective hearing aids vary from one patient to another. It is estimated that only 1 in 5 experience considerable improvement if they wear these. In most cases, the hearing aids are sufficient for those who have endured damage to their nerves which connects their ear to the brain. Reasons this can happen include old age, regular exposure to deafening noises and a number of diseases.

There are scenarios where corrective surgery can rectify the damage. For instance, if the damage is sustained on the ear canal or the eardrum, which is also called conductive hearing loss, then a surgical procedure can remedy the situation. However, that is only possible for a fraction of patients which is why the vast majority use hearing aids.

Furthermore, individuals who are born sans ear canal or external ear can’t make use of a traditional hearing aid. Instead, they can use gadgets which emit signals via the bone of their skulls.

When Do You Need One

If a person regularly experiences difficulty or complication in hearing normal dialogue or is unable to make sense of pedestrian noises, then they may have to consult a doctor promptly. Known as otolaryngologists or ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) doctors to most, they are physicians who will run diagnostics before it can be determined whether a hearing aid is mandatory.

Furthermore, an audiologist (hearing health professional) may be consulted to corroborate that these supplements are absolutely necessary. Following their assessment, a hearing aid may be recommended. The ideal circumstance is to acquire these from your doctor and not purchase in-store or give in to online purchases.


There are two types of hearing aids in general. The first kind is an analog hearing aid. They collect and convert sound waves into electrical signals and increase their volume in the process. Analog aids are standard gear which is why they have simplistic controls and are cost effective as well.

The other class of hearing aid is digital ones. They also convert sound waves and interpret these into numerical codes before intensifying these sound waves. Essentially, they function how computer codes do.

The code contains details about the origin, volume, and pitch of the sound respectively. This feature allows users to adjust the sound based on the environment they inhabit. For example, they can alter the sound if they are in a rambunctious restaurant or a prayer area since both will have varying degrees of noise. They are also equipped with automatic adjustment attributes, which is another unique proposition of the product.


With regards to the variety of hearing aids available, there are three distinct types, which vary according to size, placement, and settings.


This is an in-ear accessory that fits inside the ear and is not instantly apparent to others. An in the ear canal (ITC) aid is customized to fit properly inside your ear canal while a completely in canal (CIC) aid is minuscule and is virtually invisible once it is worn inside the ear.

Both can compensate both mild cases of hearing loss and more severe instances also. Their size or lack thereof means they can be slightly harder to accommodate and modify. These are also better suited for adults since children may find it difficult to manage given their miniature size. Finally, an invisible in canal (IIC) aid is the smallest of all.

In The Ear

This type of hearing aid fits well on the outside of the ear and can address all kinds of hearing concerns, whether it is mild or severe. The case which encapsulates the electronic elements of the hearing aid is made of hard plastic, which makes it facile to use and does not break instantly.  Some ITE aids have additional features, such as a telecoil. This is a small magnetic coil that enables users to receive sound waves through the circuits of the aid, as opposed to its microphone.

This makes the process of hearing exponentially easier. This component also assists people with a hearing disability to hear better in public domains where special sound systems are installed. These are also called induction loop systems and are located in several schools and airports, among other places.

Behind the Ear

Finally, behind the ear hearing aids are the third kind that patients can avail. They are the most common and easily observed since they are placed behind the ear. The casing is also made of durable plastic and linked to the ear mold that fits on the outer ear.

The electronic parts of the aid are also held tightly behind the ear. Any sound that is heard by the user is transmitted from the hearing aid and into the ear through the mold. Similar to the other two classifications, BTE aids can help with benign and serious cases.

Recently, a new version called the open fit aid has been coined. These are smaller and easier to fit behind the ear and only a narrow tube is inserted inside the ear canal, which still allows it to stay open. If patients have excess ear wax, this type is better suited for them since it is not easily damaged.