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There are many different degrees of hearing loss and technology has paved the way for many innovative products designed to improve a broad range of hearing.

Hearing aids come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and models. This consumer's guide consists of consolidated information to assist you in understanding all aspects of hearing aid devices to better make you an informed user and shopper. The type of hearing aid device best suited to your needs will greatly depend on the nature and extent of your hearing loss and the size and shape of the outer ear and canal. Some conditions(i.e. ear drainage) may prevent a person from wearing hearing aids that block the ear or canal.

Hearing Aids are the Answer

Approximately 10 percent of all hearing losses may be helped medically. Thanks to today's technological advances, it is likely that the remaining 90 percent may be helped with hearing aids.

Why Two Ears are Better Than One

More than 50 percent of those with a hearing loss are affected in both ears. Studies show that, even when a hearing loss is more severe in one ear, many hearing impaired people can still benefit from the natural sound-gathering ability of both ears.

Years of clinical and field trial research has shown the following benefits of binaural amplification (wearing two hearing aids) over wearing just one:

  • More normal, "balanced" sound
  • Better overall sound quality
  • Better understanding in group situations
  • A more relaxed listening experience(never having to turn to use the "good" ear)
  • The ability to set volume controls lower, enabling the wearer to hear sound at a softer, more comfortable level

One of the most important roles binaural amplification can play is to improve the wearer's ability to identify the source of a particular sound.

The brain uses signals from both ears to determine the direction a sound is coming from.

Situations such as finding the person who's calling your name, determining whether someone's knocking at the front door or the back door, or crossing the street can be difficult or even dangerous without the ability to hear properly with both ears.

Four Styles to Meet Your Sense of Style

Hearing aids are available in four basic styles designed to meet most hearing needs:

  • Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) The newest and smallest hearing aids available, these fit deep inside your ear canal so that they're practically invisible.

Completely in Canal Hearing Aid Completely-in-Canal - CIC Hearing Aid CIC in the ear

  • In-the-Canal (ITC) These are small enough to fit almost entirely in your ear canal, making them hardly noticeable.

In-the-Canal Style Hearing AidIn-the-Canal - ITC Hearing Aids In-the-Canal - ITC Hearing Aid Position

  • In-the-Ear (ITE) These are one-piece aids custom-made to fit within your ear. They are the most widely recommended hearing aid style.

In-the-Ear Style Hearing AidsIn-the-Ear - ITE Hearing AidsIn-the-Ear - ITE Hearing Aid Position

  • Behind-the-Ear (BTE) These fit snugly behind your ear and are attached to a custom earpiece moulded to the shape of your outer ear.

Behind-the-Ear Style Hearing AidsBehind-the-Ear - BTE Hearing AidsBehind-the-Ear - BTE Hearing Aid Position

How do Hearing Aids Work?

Inside each aid, a microphone picks up sound waves from the air and converts them to electrical signals. These are made louder by an amplifier and then the receiver converts the processed signal back into sound waves and directs them into your ear.

Today's Digital and Programmable Hearing Aids:

Better Technology in a Smaller Package

Hearing aids contain sophisticated circuitry, with more functions and features than could ever be packaged into a hearing aid before. With the advent of digital technology and computer-programmable hearing aids, some models offer features like:

  • Automatic Volume Control
  • Multiple Memories
  • Environmental Noise Reduction
  • Directional Microphones
  • Bluetooth Technology

If you have a hearing loss that might be helped with hearing aids, your Hearing Health Care provider can select the right model. Of course, no aid can solve all hearing problems, and not everyone benefits equally.

Fortunately, computer technology has dramatically improved the performance of hearing aids. Whether you currently wear hearing aids, or you've never tried them, there's never been a better time to see what a difference today technology can makes.