The Incredible Technology of Hearing Instruments
Technology has come a long way, especially when it comes to hearing aids. The hearing instruments of today are high performance and sophisticated wearable electronics. There are a wide range of choices when it comes to hearing aids:
CIC (Completely In Canal)
This is one of the smallest, least visible custom made instruments.
A CIC hearing aid fits deep into the ear canal with very minimal protrusion. The CIC works very well with the telephone and has little wind noise.
ITC (In The Canal)
This instrument is molded to fit the ear and is less visible than larger aids. Most have room for manual controls, such as a multi-memory button and small volume control.
ITE (In The Ear)
The instrument is molded to fit the bowl like area of the outer ear. It can fit severe losses and uses a larger battery for those with dexterity problems. It can have manual controls such as a multi-memory button, large volume control wheel, and directional microphones.
This image shows the comparative size of CIC, ITC, and ITE hearing aids.
BTE (Behind The Ear)
This is one of the larger instruments that hooks over the top of the ear and rests behind. It is visible but is usually the most powerful option.
A BTE hearing aid has a tube that connects the aid to a dome or mold that fits inside the ear. Most have manual controls that allow you to adjust the volume or memory. Some may also have a telecoil switch.
RIC (Receiver In Canal)
This instrument is very small and fits discreetly behind the ear. Attached to the instrument is a wire that allows the speaker (or receiver) of the device to sit inside the ear canal. This detachable speaker allows us to change the power, and adjust the fit of the instruments in our office. It can have either an open or closed fit and is one of the most discreet, cosmetically appealing instruments on the market.
OTE (Over The Ear)
With the same basic structure as RIC and BTE instruments, the OTE is much smaller and less noticeable. A slim case for the electronics, a barely perceptible ear bud in the ear canal, and a thin transparent tube to connect them means this type of hearing aid is almost invisible.
Some manufacturers offer streaming and remote control systems. These systems work with Bluetooth-enabled devices such as smartphones, computers, or music players. There is even an adaptor for non-Bluetooth devices such as televisions or a home stereo system. The way this technology works is that the audio signal is streamed into the wireless hearing aids directly and without noticeable time delay. All functions can be performed via one central button. A smart phone app for both Apple and Android make control of these hearing aids easy.