Learn About Hearing Aids

Types of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids today are digital and can be programmed on a computer according to the client’s specific test results. The technology is extremely advanced, allowing for natural sound quality.
There are a number of specialised hearing aid companies. Prime Hearing supplies hearing aids from all the major hearing aid companies in South Africa, namely:

Hearing aids differ with regards to the various features within the computer chip inside the hearing aid. These differences mainly impact the natural sound quality, feedback systems, noise management and overall sound quality as well as the ability to connect with various other Bluetooth and wireless features.

Hearing Aid Styles

Behind the Ear (BTE):

BTE aids consist of a case, a tube and an earmould/dome. The case is small and made of plastic. It fits behind the pinna (ear). The case contains the amplification system.

The tube is used to route the sound from the hearing aid case to the earmold/dome. Typically the sound is routed acoustically. Sometimes the sound is routed electrically. In that case, the speaker is located in the earmould instead of in the case. The earmould is usually custom made or made of other pliable fixture that contours to the individual's ear.

The color of the BTE components (case, tube and earmould/dome) range from inconspicuous skin tones to bright colors and optional decorations.

BTEs can be used for mild to profound hearing losses. BTEs have several advantages over other types of hearing aids. One advantage is that they tend to be more durable. This is because the electrical components are located outside the ear. This reduces the amount of earwax and moisture that the electrical components are subjected to.

Another advantage is that BTEs can be connected to assistive listening devices, such as classroom FM systems. Lastly, if the earmould no longer fits the user, the earmould can be replaced for a fraction of the price of a new hearing aid.

BTE hearing aids are typically prescribed for children. This is because children need a durable hearing aid, often need assistive listening devices, and often outgrow the size of the earmould.

Custom Hearing Aids: In-the-ear (ITE), In-the-canal (ITC), Completely-in-the-canal (CIC), Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) aids:

These hearing aids are custom made, whereby the shell of the aid is made to fit inside the patients' ear. There are no tubes or wires - the entire hearing aid sits in the ear.

The difference in size allows for the fitting of different types of hearing losses, as well as the smaller one goes, the less technology can be fitted, such as all the Bluetooth features.

Post-auricular-canal (PAC) or Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE) aids:

The PAC or RITE is the latest design in hearing aid technology and combines the features of the BTE and the ITE.

The microphone and processor fits behind the ear, similar to the BTE, while the receiver fits deep in the ear canal, similar to the CIC.

The BTE part and the CIC part are connected with a thin wire. Some of the benefits of this design include cosmetic appeal, good sound quality (because of the deep fit) and longer battery life.

Bone conduction hearing aids

In some conductive hearing losses, a bone conduction hearing aid that can stimulate the ear by transmitting sound vibrations through the bone of the skull can be used.

These can be implanted, or worn with a band.