Types of Hearing Aids:

General Hearing Instrument Options

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If you have any range of hearing impairment, you've probably considered the use of a general hearing instrument to help amplify the ambient sound around you. There are many types of hearing aids and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, intended for different needs and types of use. Picking from among the many types of hearing aid devices out there can be a tricky thing.

This article is intended to narrow down the different options available to you for digital hearing aids and the prices you can expect to find associated to them. We'll go over each type of hearing aid individually and outline the various pros and cons with them.

Hopefully this article will help you make an informed decision when purchasing a device of this nature. Let's get started!

Body Worn Hearing Aids

Types of Hearing Aid Devices

The first and probably least convenient variety of hearing aid is the body worn hearing aid device. This is not the most convenient, but it is probably the least expensive version out there due to the lack of miniaturization. The idea is you wear a case on your body, sometimes on a belt or torso strap, and a wire runs from that case to an earmold which amplifies sound.

All sound amplification is generated in the case itself, and the earmold is actually just a small speaker. It's still a great option for anyone concerned with price, and 2nd and 3rd world countries still make heavy use of them. However, they are inconvenient and embarassing for some people, and they limit freedom of movement somewhat. As inexpensive units go it's great and functional, but when compared with invisible hearing aids it really doesn't stand up.

Behind The Ear Hearing Aids:

Types of Hearing Aid Devices

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Behind the ear hearing aids have been popular for quite a few years due to their ease of use, comfort and portability. With these units, the amplification equipment is miniaturized and housed behind the ear, powered by small batteries. A tube containing the speaker wire runs along the top of the ear, holding the unit in place. The speaker sits in an earmold.

This is one of the most popular types of hearing aid out there because they are pretty low profile and low maintenance. You have no wires to worry about and they are hardly noticeable. They are often skin colored to minimize appearance, and they are quite resistant to shock and damage. They're good options for children because of this. 

Behind the ear hearing aid devices are best suited for anyone with mild to severe hearing loss. It's one of the lowest maintenance types of hearing aid devices because the important amplifying bits and pieces are outside of the ear where they're less likely to experience moisture.

In the Ear and In the Canal Hearing Aids:

Types of Hearing Aid Devices

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For someone wanting a more discreet option, one of the best types of hearing aids is the 'In Ear' device. 

In The Ear Hearing Aids:

In the ear devices are popular because they lack the 'wrap around' segment that others often have. This makes them even more portable and less noticeable. These devices fit in the outer bowl of the ear and are individually molded to the owner. They are somewhat visible in conversation, but to a much lower extent than behind the ear units. These are not recommended for children, because as they grow their ears will change shape, requiring frequent updating. 

These devices are considered 'invisible hearing aids', but it's a misnomer because they are slightly visible at most times. Digital hearing aid prices for these devices are higher than behind the ear units only because they must be custom fit.

In The Canal Hearing Aids:

This type of hearing aid is similar to the ones mentioned above, but they sit further back in the canal and take up less space. They are appropriate for someone with low to moderate hearing loss, and they must be custom molded to the individual by an audiologist. They are a bit more expensive, but they are almost invisible hearing aids, so they're great for someone looking to be 'stealthy'. 

Extended Wear Hearing Aids:

Types of Hearing Aid Devices

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If you're needing something more long term and involved, there are other options available to you. 

Extended Wear Hearing Aids:

Extended wear devices are among the newer types of hearing aids out there. They are some of the only real invisible hearing aids, and they are intended to be worn for many months at a time, anywhere from 1 to 3 months. They can be worn while showering, working out and sleeping. They are fitted in place by a hearing specialist. 

Extended wear hearing instruments are truly invisible hearing aids because they are inserted deep in the ear by the professional. Even someone looking directly at the ear won't notice it. They are immune to moisture and earwax, but they cannot be taken underwater, so swimming is out. Showering is ok though. 

They must be removed after a certain time because the batteries run out. Aside from this frequent changing, these are some of the best varieties of hearing aids for individuals wanting a totally invisible hearing instrument. As digital hearing aids go, prices are high, but they are very convenient.

Specialized Options:

Types of Hearing Aid Devices

There are some highly specialized devices too, intended for specific use. Because there are so many different types of hearing loss, it's important to have many types of hearing aids available so the consumer can pick something ideal. Here are a few examples:

Bone Anchored Hearing Aids:

Bone anchored hearing instruments are surgically implanted hearing devices that are intended for individuals without an ear canal. The idea is to use the bone to transmit vibrations to the inner ear. These are a different category of hearing aid device and are quite invasive (though very safe). 

Eyeglass Hearing Aids:

These are somewhat outdated, but the concept is that a wearer can integrate a hearing aid into their glasses, if they require them too. The arm of the glasses holds the speaker in place and the amplification equipment is housed on the frames too. These are less popular these days because most people look for something more low profile.