Hearing Aids What Style Is Best?
Currently there are many choices when it comes to the style in hearing aids. There are behind the ear hearing aids that sit over top of the ear and are coupled to an earmold that fits within the bowl of the ear. Then there are several in-the-ear hearing aids that vary in size the full-shell-in-the-ear, filling the bowl of the outer ear; the half-shell, filling the bottom half of the bowl; the in-the-canal; and the smallest hearing aid, the completely-in-the-canal. Lastly there is something fairly new; open fit behind-the-ear hearing aids.
Patients are recommended not to make a selection just based on cosmetic factors. While this is important to the patient, you must also consider physical and audiological factors.
The way the ear is shaped may play a big part in the decision of which style to choose. For example, if the outer ear is deformed, a patient may not be able to wear a behind-the-ear aid. In order to wear an in-the-canal or completely-in-the-canal hearing aid, the ear canal must be a certain size and there must be enough of a bend in the canal to retain it in the ear.
Another physical factor is the patients ability to handle the hearing aid. For a person who has trouble with their hands a smaller hearing aid would not be a good choice. Not only would it be difficult to remove and insert the aid but adjusting the volume and changing the battery would be a challenge.
Medical conditions are a factor in some cases. A patient with an ear that drains would be best suited with a behind-the-ear hearing aid. The drainage from the ear would then go into the earmold not directly into the hearing device.
The decision process of choosing a style must also include audiological factors. The degree of hearing loss may limit the choice. A person with a severe to profound loss would benefit the most from a behind the ear hearing aid. Or someone who has a high frequency hearing loss (with normal low frequency hearing) might get the most benefit from the new open fit style devices.
Special features that are offered on certain styles may also play a part in the decision. Directional microphones that primarily amplify what is in front of the patient, or telecoil that work to help with listening on the phone are examples of some of these special features.
The factors listed above should be discussed at the time of placing a hearing aid order. In doing so the patient and the audiologist can decide on which style would best fit the patients hearing loss and needs.