Descriptions of hearing technology can go on for pages, however, here are my picks from major manufacturers, any of which should satisfy most people.
The Oticon More is a dramatic leap forward in benefit for hearing aid users. The best way to describe it is from the experience of the first person in our practice who tried a pair. His previous aids were the Oticon Opn S1 RIC style, which contained Oticon’s previous flagship hearing technology. We transferred the program from his old aids to the More units. At his follow up appointment he said the More units allowed him significantly clearer and crisper speech understanding. It comes in a rechargeable, receiver in the canal (RIC) style. Read more about the More in Oticon’s press release.
The Oticon Opn is a made-for-iPhone hearing system that can analyze your listening environment more than 100 times per second and detect the level, location, and pitch range of speech and noise. Following this analysis they adjust and balance the level of individual sound sources and remove excessive noise – even noise between words! The effect is to make it easier on the brain to understand in noisy places. Oticon has recently introduced the Siya. It looks like the Opn, but it has fewer features and is available at a much lower price.
The Unitron Discover Next is the world’s smallest rechargeable hearing aid, giving you ultimate discretion with award-winning design that always feels natural and comfortable. You’re ready for every conversation, with an overnight charge that lasts all day. And you can even swap in zinc-air batteries at any time so you’re never without power. The Unitron Discover Next offers even more, with connectivity to any Bluetooth enabled cell phone. It uses a size 13 battery and is available as a rechargeable.
Hearing Aid Styles
One size does not fit all when it comes to hearing devices. The size and shape of your ear and the severity of your hearing loss play a big part in the choice of hearing aid size and style. The following paragraphs describe each of the most common styles.
This style’s cosmetic appeal makes it one of the most popular. It sits behind the ear, but the speaker is in the ear, with a thin wire connecting the hearing aid to the speaker. The speaker sports a dome or custom mold to hold the speaker in place and provide the proper venting.
In-The-Ear (ITE) and In-The-Canal (ITC)
ITE and ITC models are custom made to fit in the outer bowl of the ear. Their size allows for features such as directional microphones and volume controls. In cases of poor dexterity, the ITE is easier for a person to handle and adjust.
CIC models are custom made and fit deep within the ear canal. While offering cosmetic advantages, these devices have limitations such as shorter battery life, size restrictions due to ear anatomy, and limited on-aid controls. Some brands offer a remote for added user control.
BTE models sit behind the ear with tubing that runs over the top of the ear and down to the ear canal entrance. This tubing is connected to a custom acrylic, vinyl, or silicone ear mold that sits in the bowl of the ear. BTE models are typically used for severe to profound losses. Colors are available to blend with skin or hair or to stand out and make a statement.