Hearing Aids: Unbiased advice
Independent and professionally qualified audiologists advising you on a broad range of hearing aids from the leading manufacturers. From tiny in-the-ear-canal styles, to near invisible behind-the-ear models and powerful aids for severe to profound hearing loss, we fit and advise on all styles and brands of hearing aids.
Receiver-In-The-Ear (RITE) Hearing Aids
This style of hearing aid is the most popular in Australia and world-wide and is made by all major hearing aid manufacturers. Depending on the manufacturer they are known as RIC or RITE instruments – both refer to the same style. They consist of a thin coated wire that extends from the body of the hearing aid (which sits behind the ear) to the entrance of the ear canal. Usually there is a small soft tip or dome that attaches to the end of the wire and is inserted into the ear canal. Customised moulds or acrylic tips are also used in some instances. These fittings have the advantage of allowing air and sound to flow into the ear canal creating a comfortable feel and natural sound quality.
RICs are suitable for a wide range of hearing losses from very mild to severe. They are comfortable and provide a cosmetically appealing solution. From a front-on view they are usually very difficult to see with the behind the ear part of the hearing aid available in different colours and easily covered by hair or hidden behind the ear. Many of these hearing aids come in a rechargeable option with direct Bluetooth connectivity available.
Invisible-In-The-Canal Hearing Aids (IIC)
IIC hearing aids are the smallest style of hearing aid available. Custom made for the individual client these devices are made to sit deep in the ear canal, near the ear drum, rendering them essentially invisible. They are suitable for mild to moderate and even some severe degrees of hearing loss. IIC hearing aids are most suitable for flat configurations of hearing loss. They can result in an occluded sensation when fitted to high frequency hearing loss and are therefore usually not the most suitable in such instances. Other situations where they are not suitable include very small ear canals, unusual ear canal shapes, ear canal abnormalities and excessive wax production.
As with the ‘CIC’ devices below, IIC aids allow the natural use of the pinna (the external ear) to capture sound, work well with telephones and minimise wind interference. Due to their small size, some do not allow directional microphones, which may reduce their effectiveness in background noise. The small size 10 battery size also means that battery changes are more frequent. Some models are Bluetooth compatible however for these aids to be as small as possible features such as Bluetooth capabilities and volume control buttons are usually not available.
Although there are some limitations to these hearing aids they remain a popular choice for those wanting the most cosmetically discrete solution to hearing loss. Wearers of IIC hearing aids are usually very happy with their devices and wouldn’t choose anything else! An Audiologist experienced in fitting these devices is an essential ingredient to a successful outcome.
Completely-In-The-Canal Hearing Aids (CIC)
Slightly larger than the IIC devices but still designed to fit completely inside the ear canal, CIC aids improve mild to moderate hearing loss very effectively. In some cases they may also be programmed for more severe hearing loss. Many of their features are equal to those described for IICs.
The discreet appearance and natural use of the pinna (external ear) to capture sound has driven the popularity of these devices. For those with good dexterity they can be convenient and easy to use, discrete in appearance with minimal wind interference. Many CICs can now incorporate directional microphones, improving performance in noisy situations. Some models are also Bluetooth compatible.
In-The-Canal (ITC) /In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
Sitting less deeply in the ear than CIC hearing aids, ITC and ITE hearing aids are effective for mild to severe hearing loss. They can include more features than their CIC counterparts, including directional microphones and Bluetooth compatibility. Although these hearing aids tend to be a little more visible from a side view they have several advantages over the smaller CIC and IIC models.
These devices have a larger battery size, wither a 312 or 13. This results in a longer battery life and reduces the need to replace batteries frequently. The larger size also makes handling easier for people who may have difficulty with manual dexterity or eyesight. ITC hearing aids can be equipped with direct Bluetooth capabilities similar to that found in a RIC or BTE device. More recently some manufacturers have released rechargeable ITC hearing aids.
Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
BTE style hearing aids are the traditional shape of device that most people associate with hearing aids. Although still popular their use has decreased since the availability of RIC style instruments has increased. BTEs are the most flexible type of hearing aid. Suitable for mild to the most severe to profound hearing loss they come in a wide range of powers.
BTE hearing aids hook over the top of the ear, sitting snugly behind it. They carry the sound from the instrument via a clear tube into a mould or dome that sits in the ear. Available in a large range of sizes and colours, BTE hearing aids provide flexibility and can be adapted for most types of hearing loss for all ages. Another advantage of BTE instruments is that they are robust with all working parts encased in the part of the aid sitting behind the ear. They have less repairs than other instruments. These hearing aids are usually powered with a 312 or 13 size battery. Most are also available with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and have a wide range of features including direct Bluetooth compatibility.
Wearables and Ear Bud Hearing Devices
This is the newest category of hearing device available and there are a number of manufacturers providing a wide variety of instruments ranging in sophistication and purpose. These devices are built around the popularity of Bluetooth earbuds with the added benefit of amplifying sound and performing to some extend like a hearing aid. They vary widely in quality and function. Some of these devices are designed to merely amplify all surrounding sound with little or no ability to manipulate the response of the device.
Others are a true hearing aid with noise reduction capabilities that are equal to a more sophisticated hearing aid. All of the devices in this category are designed to appear like a Bluetooth ear bud and many have a cool, high-tech appealing appearance with a programmable output that can be tailored by the Audiologist to each individual wearer.