The first step in addressing your hearing loss is to have your hearing tested. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, around 20 percent of U.S. citizens are currently living with some degree of hearing loss. If you are considering getting hearing aids, it’s helpful to understand how different types of hearing aids specifically cater to distinct levels of hearing ability. While your doctor is the best source of information, here are some guidelines to help understand the different hearing aid options available:

Behind-the-ear
This model of hearing aid is arguably the most popular style, as it helps address a wide range of hearing loss, varying from mild to severe. The device sits directly within your ear, while a tube coils over the top of your pinna, or outer ear, and rests directly behind your ear. Many models feature multiple directional microphones, which help enhance hearing comprehension in noisy environments. Behind-the-ear devices come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, but the main benefit to this type of hearing aid is the balance of comfort and audio quality. If you’re thinking about purchasing a behind-the-ear hearing aid model, it’s important to discuss with your audiologist the various amplification settings available in each style that will suit your hearing ability. Finding the right fit and capabilities is the secret to choosing the best behind-the-ear model.

Completely-in-canal
One of the more innovative design styles of hearing aids is a completely-in-canal hearing aid model. These models, otherwise known as “invisible” hearing aids, are customized to fit comfortably within your ear. CIC hearing aids are usually reserved for mild or moderate hearing loss, while more severe levels of hearing loss typically require other models of hearing aids. If you’re interested in being fitted for CIC hearing aids, it’s important to note the many features and accessories that may complement these assistive listening devices. Some CIC models are compatible with Bluetooth® technology, so you can wirelessly talk on your cell phone through your hearing aid. Depending on the style, you may also connect your hearing aid to your smartphone, so you can control all the auditory settings with a few swipes of your thumb.

In-the-ear
The most traditional style of hearing aid is also often considered the most dependable, as in-the-ear models have a long-proven track record of helping millions of people with hearing loss. For starters, once you are fitted for a specific brand, the model you receive is professionally manufactured to exactly fit the size of your ears. ITE hearing aids also are generally prescribed to more severe cases of hearing loss. Because the auditory features such as volume control are simple to adjust, people generally report the overall experience of using ITE devices is extremely accessible. These models often use larger and more powerful batteries, which means you won’t have to worry about constantly charging your batteries.

Remember, getting a hearing exam and having frequent discussions with your audiologist will help you make the most rewarding decision about your overall hearing health, including whether hearing aids are the right approach for you.

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