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Do you want to improve your hearing performance? Are you looking for a suitable hearing aid? Then you've come to the right place. We’ve summarized the main types of hearing aids, along with their advantages and disadvantages. We’re also happy to provide personal advice.

What types of hearing aid are available?

Hearing aids are available in a wide range of designs for every type of hearing impairment or hearing loss from a variety of hearing aid manufacturers. This variety ensures that the hearing aid can be adapted to your personal preferences and expectations, so that nothing stands in the way of your hearing.

Your hearing care professional will recommend a solution for you based upon your individual hearing loss, ear shape and lifestyle. These are the most common hearing aids:
  • Behind-the-Ear (BTE)​
  • Receiver-In-Canal (RIC)
  • In-the-Ear (ITE)
  • Invisible-in-Canal (IIC)
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Read more about the different types of hearing aids

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)
This hearing aid is traditionally the most powerful and rests on the back of the outer ear.
Receiver-in-Canal (RIC)
Open-fit hearing aid that uses a thin plastic micro tube extending into the ear canal.
In-the-Ear (ITE)
In-the-ear hearing aids (ITEs) include all hearing aids that are worn entirely in the ear (rather than behind it), including in-the-canal (ITC), Completely-in-Canal (CIC) and invisible-in-canal (IIC).
Invisible-in-Canal (Lyric)
Phonak's Lyric is a hearing aid worn deep in the ear canal making them completely discreet.

What are the differences between digital and analog hearing aids?

Hearing aids can be either analog or digital. Most new hearing aids are digital. The only difference between analog and digital devices results from the way in which they process signals.

Analog hearing aids pick up signals from the surroundings. The signals are then reproduced and amplified by a loudspeaker. These devices are unable to filter out or reduce noise.
Digital hearing aids convert sound into electronic information. Only major signals are amplified and transmitted. Loud ambient sounds are reduced. This means that the wearer can hear better even in noisy environments. These devices can be adapted to individual needs and are smaller than analog models. Digital hearing aids also deliver improved sound quality and enhance speech comprehension. This makes hearing easier.

What are the differences between open and closed fittings?

Hearing aids may be either closed or open in design. An open design means that the sound waves continue to reach the eardrum naturally. Behind-the-ear devices feature open fittings. In this case, the sound tube and earpiece sit in the external ear canal. Since audible sounds are not amplified, natural hearing is possible. Open-fit models also allow better ventilation of the ear canal. 
In closed models, the external ear canal is largely sealed by an earpiece or in-the-ear hearing aid. However, this doesn’t mean that the ear isn’t ventilated. By fitting the earpiece, it sits better in the ear and ensures more direct transmission. This means that the full range of hearing aid features can be used more effectively. Closed models are also more flexible and can be used for different types of hearing loss.

What other devices are available?

If standard hearing aids do not meet an individual's needs, there are still a number of alternatives:
Bone conduction hearing aids
This type of hearing aid is also available in the form of glasses. The sound is transmitted to the skull bone via the arms of the glasses, which sit firmly against the head. This type of hearing aid can be the perfect solution for anyone experiencing frequent middle ear infections.
Bone-anchored hearing aids
In this option, bone conduction is used to bypass a non-functioning middle ear. A titanium screw is implanted behind the ear. The hearing aid is secured to the implant using a snap fastener.
Implanted middle ear hearing aids
These active middle ear implants cause the ossicles inside the middle ear to vibrate.
Cochlear implants
Implanted hearing aids, such as conventional hearing aids, make use of the residual abilities of the sensory cells. Cochlear implants bypass the missing sensory cells in the cochlea and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
Brainstem implants
If the auditory nerve has been damaged, a device can be implanted in the brain. This makes sound stimuli audible. The technology is similar to that used in a cochlear implant. However, the electrode is applied directly to the brainstem.
Tinnitus maskers
Sounds produced by the noiser are transmitted to the ears to cancel out the tinnitus in the background.
This hearing aid is placed directly into the ear canal, where it captures sound. It is completely invisible from the outside and can be worn for months at a time.
Are you uncertain whether you even need a hearing aid? Click here for more information. Or discover the benefits offered by various hearing aid manufacturers. If you need help choosing the right model, either take a look at our Tips on buying a hearing aid or visit your nearest branch for a free consultation.

Other topics

Hearing aids – Brands
Which hearing aid should I choose?

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