Have you got your hearing aid switched on? Pardon? I said, have you got your hearing aid switched on? What! I SAID, HAVE YOU GOT YOUR HEARING AID ON – well there’s no need to shout.
Millions of people benefit around the world today from hearing aids, many of them don’t do anything “medical” to improve the hearing, they just magnify the sound and send it in the right direction – a bit like those ear trumpets they had at the turn of the last century – they were great fun weren’t they, but these days hearing aids are much more discreet.
Hearing aids these days come in many different designs and have various power and circuitry.
- Body worn aids – these were the first type which involved a case, a cord and an ear mold. About the size of a deck of playing cards worn around the belt, a cord connects the amplifier (in the case) to the ear mold. These days they’ve been largely replaced by the more modern behind-the-ear hearing aids.
- Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids – this is again a case, a tube and an earmold, although in this case the case (lots of cases going on here) sits behind the hear instead of in your pocket or on your belt. Luckily they are much smaller than the old ones or it would be more than a little bit uncomfortable. The ear molds can be made of a wide variety of materials, some pretty hard and some quite soft for added comfort, and can even be customized with a little decoration if you’re in the mood. BTE hearing aids are suitable for mild hearing loss but can also be used for more profound cases. Because the electrical bits of the hearing aid are behind the ear it reduces the chance of them being damaged by ear wax or moisture, and the case and the ear mold can be replaced independently. This makes BTE hearing aids quite commonly used among children, which need to have their ear molds replaced more regularly. Babies, for example, need to have a new ear mold every couple of weeks.
- In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids – are custom made to fit everyone’s individual ear (ears come in all shapes and sizes you know, they’re as individual as you are). They sit in the outer bowl of the ear (the concha for those who like to know the technical terms) and are sometimes visible if you look at someone head on. They are pretty common among grown-ups these days, but not popular for use with children as the whole thing is more difficult to replace regularly than the ear molds in BTE hearing aids.
- Receiver In The Canal/Ear (RIC/RITE) – you know, hearing aids have nearly as many acronyms as computers! These look very similar to the BTE hearing aids but advances have meant that many people find the experience much smoother as well as some people finding them more aesthetically pleasing as they can be very inconspicuous.
- In the Canal (ITC), mini canal (MIC) or completely in the canal hearing aids (CIC) – told you there were lots of abbreviations going on here. These are also pretty inconspicuous but are often more expensive than BTE hearing aids as they all need to be made specifically to fit the wearers ear – no such thing as a “one size fits all” when it comes to hearing aids you know.
- Invisible in the Canal hearing aids (IIHC) – fit deeper in the ear canal and are generally not visible at all. Some of the really flash ones can even have their settings changed via remote control or your cell phone. These are generally suitable for middle aged people but not the elderly.
There, I told you there were lots of different types of hearing aids. Don’t worry though, if you are one of those people who needs to keep turning the television volume higher and higher and accuses the rest of your family of “mumbling” – yes, there’s one of those at our house too, mentioning no names – then all you have to do is to bite the bullet and have your hearing tested. Hearing aids have improved the quality of so many peoples lives, and you wouldn’t even know that many of them were there so don’t suffer in silence (ha ha, I didn’t even see that one coming myself).