How Does a Hearing Aid Work?
Sound waves enter through a microphone, which converts the acoustic signals into electrical signals. An amplifier increases the strength of the electrical signal. From the amplifier, the signal is transformed back to an acoustical signal by the receiver (a mini loud speaker). From the receiver, the signal is channeled into the ear canal, either through a small tube or an ear mold. There are three main styles of hearing aids:
In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aid
ITE hearing aids fit directly into the external part of the ear and are custom made to fit the contours of your ear. Appealing shell styles combine improved cosmetics with optimal power and sound quality.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aid
BTE hearing aids are housed in a small curved case which fits behind the ear. A thin transparent tube is inserted directly into the ear canal. This reduces the “plugged up” sensation associated with some hearing aids. This type of hearing aid is also referred to as “open fit” since your ear canal is left open.
Receiver-in-the-Ear (RIE) hearing aid
RIE hearing aids are housed in a small case that fits in the ear. It naturally rests on the curve of the ear and is virtually invisible due to its discreet tube and receiver.
Advances in digital technology have dramatically improved hearing aids. They are now smaller than ever before with far better sound quality. Top-of-the-line models feature “directional” or “high definition” hearing. These devices use two microphones and an algorithm to enhance sound coming from the front (the person you are talking to), while tuning down sound coming from behind (background noise). Beltone’s state-of-the-art digital hearing aids include:
- Multiple channels for better prescription fit
- Automatic volume control to ensure sounds are never too loud and are reduced for comfort
- Speech Pattern Detection and noise reduction to help you hear better in background noise
- Anti-Feedback Control to reduce whistling
- Wind Noise Suppression to help you better enjoy outdoor activities
- Open fit technology to relieve feeling “plugged up”
If you do have a hearing loss, there is an extensive line of hearing instruments to choose from, designed to fit every lifestyle and hearing loss, including a complete line of digital instruments. The inner circuitry is the second of the two main parts of a hearing-aid (the first being the shell style) and it determines the type of technology used in Beltone hearing aids.
Choose Your Hearing Aid Style
The choice of a hearing aid style is a personal one, and depends on your lifestyle, desired aesthetic appeal, degree of hearing loss, and other factors. The “shell” or “case” is the outer covering of a hearing aid, and determines its style. Of the many parts of a hearing aid, style can make a big difference to your overall satisfaction.
Beltone’s two main style categories are Behind-the-Ear (BTE) and Custom hearing aids. BTE instruments are curved to rest comfortably behind your ear. Extremely popular, BTE hearing aids are easy to adjust, fully programmable and furnish mild-to-powerful amplification. Custom hearing aids are manufactured according to an impression taken of your ear canal and the surrounding area. So, like any item created just for you, they offer the comfort of a custom-made fit.
Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC) Style
Tiny is the new small! About the size of a raspberry, Beltone Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC) hearing aids are the instruments of choice for those who desire hearing help that can’t be seen.
A Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC) starts its life as an ear-impression of your ear canal. The impression is turned into a 3-D computerized rendering. From there, each hearing aid component is “virtually” positioned, in order to create the tiniest finished product possible. Then, your hearing aid is built, and delicately sculpted until it matches the contours of your ear canal.
This hand-tailoring ensures a “made-for-you” shape, and a superior fit. It also permits the hearing aid to sit more deeply within your ear canal, hidden from view. And, patients enjoy the clear and natural listening experience IICs provide.
Receiver-in-Ear (RIE) Style
Receiver-in-Ear (RIE) hearing aids are the newest BTE style devices on the market, and, the most popular. An RIE hearing aid is comprised of a very small casing that sits behind the ear. The casing houses all of the electronic components of the hearing aid except for the receiver (also called the speaker). This allows the casing to be extremely tiny, so it’s barely visible. A narrow transparent tube carries very thin wires from the casing to the receiver, which rests in your ear canal.
RIE hearing aids offer exceptionally natural sound quality, and can be used with custom-made or standard ear molds, depending on your individual amplification needs. Almost all types of hearing loss can be assisted with RIE style hearing aids.
Traditional Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Style
Easy-to-wear BTE devices are small, and feature a curved casing designed to nestle comfortably behind the ear. By matching flesh tone or hair color, they hide with ease. A transparent tube connects the device to a custom-created ear mold worn in your ear canal. Ear molds are lightweight and comfortable, making BTE hearing aids easy to wear all day.
BTE style hearing aids can be used by just about everyone. They assist the entire spectrum of hearing loss, from mild to severe. Additionally, they are budget friendly, and adapt to most lifestyles.
Microphone-in-Concha (MIC) Style
Designed to “disappear” from view and provide extremely natural sound, the MIC style hearing aid represents the latest innovation in “custom” hearing aid technology. The main part of an MIC hearing aid hides in your ear canal. This piece is custom-manufactured based on an ear canal impression taken during your visit, so it’s very comfortable. The hearing aid microphone is a separate component, and is worn within the concha, or curved groove, of your external ear—where it stays out of sight. A tiny transparent tube sends sound from the microphone in your concha to the component in your ear canal.
The ingenious construction of the MIC style hearing aid takes advantage of the ear’s anatomy to provide near-to-natural sound quality, and outstanding appearance. By placing the microphone in the curved portion of your ear, it’s protected from wind noise. This makes the MIC style perfect for active individuals who spend time outdoors.
Completely-in-Canal (CIC) Style
Another “tiny” offering, the CIC style hearing aid style is worn completely within the ear canal. Being a custom-crafted hearing aid, your Beltone Hearing Care Professional will take an ear canal impression to give your hearing aid a perfectly tailored fit. This ensures maximum comfort and sound quality.
CIC style hearing aids are most effective when treating mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Hearing aid wearers love them as they provide the benefit of improved hearing, with no one the wiser.
In-the-Canal (ITC) Style
ITC-style hearing aids are custom-made, based on an impression taken of your ear canal and the surrounding area. They are slightly larger than completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids, but still considered cosmetically appealing. All of the components in an ITC hearing aid are encased within a lightweight plastic shell. Their medium size makes them a great choice for push button controls. ITC hearing aids offer a secure fit, easy insertion and removal, and longer battery life. They work best for mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
Also popular is the Mini ITC style hearing aid. This option is less noticeable than the standard ITC hearing aid, but offers fewer easy-to-reach controls.
Full-Shell style hearing devices partially-to-fully fill the outer ear. They are custom manufactured to fit securely, and be as aesthetically pleasing as possible. All components reside within a lightweight plastic shell which is simple to insert and remove. Their bigger size accommodates a variety of feature options, including special controls that are easy to adjust.
Full-Shell style hearing aids use larger batteries which can power a bigger receiver. This makes them a superb choice for more serious hearing losses. Larger batteries also last longer, and are more “user-friendly” to handle.