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    Hearing Aid Styles

    Hearing aids come in a variety of styles with different advantages and uses.  The decision as to which style is best for you should be made in conjunction with your hearing care professional and is dependent on the type and degree of hearing loss, manual dexterity and of course, cosmetic factors.  Listed below are the most common hearing aid styles.  Contact us at our Brandon, MB clinic to book an appointment or for additional information.

    Open Fit Hearing Aids

    Open fit hearing aids are similar to the behind-the-ear (BTE) style in that the amplifier and electronics sit on top of the ear. However, Open Fit hearing aids tend to be much smaller and the tubing that brings the sound to the ear is ultra slim with a small flexible tip that sits in the ear canal.

    The small tip in the ear results in an open fit without 'plugging' the ears. This open fit design usually results in a more comfortable fit, a more natural sound, and can reduce problems with the sound quality of your own voice. However, the open fit hearing aids are not appropriate for severe hearing losses and are best for persons with mild to moderate high frequency hearing loss.

    Best For:

    • Mild to moderate high frequency hearing loss

    Behind-the-ear (BTE) Hearing Aid

    Just as its name suggests, this type of hearing aid sits on top of and behind the ear. Amplified sound is sent to the ear through tubing and a custom crafted ear-piece called an earmold.

    Because the electronics are behind the ear and not in the actual ear canal, BTEs are often recommended for individuals with chronic ear infections or those who produce a large amount of ear wax. Behind-the-ear hearing aids and earmolds are now available in a variety of colours and designs. They are also much smaller and slimmer than in the past.

    These hearing aids can accommodate a profound hearing loss, can be attached to other special listening devices such as FM systems, and can have excellent flexibility in how they are programmed.

    Best For:

    • all degrees of hearing loss, including profound
    • chronic ear infections / ear wax
    • use with other listening devices

    Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids

    This type of hearing aid fits deeply into the ear canal and is generally not visible.  This product is made from an impression of the ear and is custom fit for the individual.  Due to the deep placement in the ear canal, sound can be collected more naturally by the shape of the ear.  Fortunately, not everyone is a candidate for IIC hearing aids due to the size or shape of the ear canal or the severity of the hearing loss. 

    Best For:

    • mild to moderate hearing loss
    • adults (vs. children)

    In-the-Ear (ITE), In-the-Canal (ITC) and Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aid

    This type of hearing aid fits completely in the ear and outer ear canal. These products are made from an impression of the ear and are custom fit for the individual. There are several sizes of custom hearing aids:

    • CIC (Completely-in-the-canal) which is very small and discreet
    • ITC (In-the-Canal) Slightly bigger than the CIC
    • Half Shell - Fills about half of the bowl of the ear (the concha)
    • Full Shell - Fills the bowl of the ear

    These are popular styles for adult hearing aid users but there can be disadvantages for children using them. Because young children's ears are continually growing, this results in the need for frequent re-casing of the hearing aids to ensure a proper fit. Also, because this size of hearing aid is not powerful enough to provide adequate amplification for severe or profound hearing loss, a behind-the-ear hearing aid is required for those individuals.

    Best For:

    • mild to moderately-severe hearing loss
    • adults (vs. children)

    CROS (Contralateral Routing of Signal) and BICROS (Bilateral Routing of Signal)

    The CROS hearing aid system is made for those with unilateral hearing loss (CROS), or for hearing losses in which the loss in one ear is significantly greater than the other (BI-CROS). Specifically, these are used when one of the ears cannot benefit from a hearing aid.

    A microphone is placed on the poorer ear and the signal is then routed to a hearing aid on the better ear. This provides sound from the "dead" or unusable side. Although these hearing aids cannot restore full ability to localize sounds in space, they do provide useful sound information that is not otherwise available to the individual.

    Best For:

    • unilateral hearing loss with one unusable ear

    FM Systems

    FM systems are assistive listening devices that can improve the signal-to-noise ratio for the listener and reduce the effects of poor acoustics.

    The microphone is placed near the sound source and a receiver is used by the listener. The receiver can be a separate module with headphones, or it can be a miniature piece attached to a BTE hearing aid. Currently some FM receivers are being integrated right into the hearing aids.

    FM systems allow the listener to hear the speaker above the background noise at considerable distances as there are no wires connecting the listener to the speaker. FM systems can also be used for classes, lectures, conferences, meetings, in restaurants and in large groups.

    Best For:

    • High background noise
    • Listening at a distance