Millions of people worldwide struggle with hearing loss due to old age, genetic conditions, and more. For people looking to restore auditory function, hearing aids can help significantly.
But with many different types of hearing aids on the market, shopping for a hearing aid may seem like a daunting task. Here's everything you need to know about the different types of hearing aids available, including deciding which one is right for you.
What is a Hearing Aid?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices used to magnify sounds and aid people who are experiencing hearing loss or have a hearing impairment.
Typically powered by small batteries located within the device, a hearing aid also has a:
- Microphone—to pick up sounds
- An amplification device—to make the sound louder
- A loudspeaker or receiver—to ensure that the sounds you hear in your ear canal are amplified and able to be distinguished more easily by you
What are the Causes of Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons. For some, it may be due to abnormalities in the structure of their ears, while others can experience hearing loss due to their lifestyle and environment. Some common reasons for hearing loss include:
- Certain medications
- Buildup of earwax
- Trauma to the ears
- Repeated infections along with the development of scar tissue
Anyone experiencing hearing loss is encouraged to seek the help of a board-certified Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician who specializes in hearing-related issues and injuries.
Even if you're not a suitable candidate for a hearing aid, there may be other treatments available to you to restore your hearing and bring back your quality of life.
What are the Different Types of Hearing Aids?
There are several different types of hearing aids available. A board-certified ENT physician can help determine the hearing aid that's right for you and your level of hearing loss, as well as your lifestyle and listening requirements.
Most hearing aids will differ by the type of:
- Technology—analog devices vs. digital devices
- Specialized features
The two main types of hearing aids currently available are:
- Analog hearing aids
Analog hearing aids are typically less expensive than digital versions but only provide basic volume control and features.
- Digital hearing aids
Digital hearing aids are more popular and offer automatic volume adjustments as well as a smaller, more compact size.
In addition to the main types of hearing aids, there are also a variety of styles available, including:
- In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids that fit inside the ear and are minimally visible
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) aids, and
- Receiver-in-canal hearing aids
Is Treatment with a Hearing Aid Right for You?
Not everyone with hearing loss will be a candidate for hearing aids, but for more than 1 in 5 patients, hearing aids can significantly improve your hearing and restore your overall quality of life.
You may be the right candidate for a hearing aid if:
- You have had previous inner ear damage as a result of disease or trauma
- You're aging
- You experience prolonged exposure to loud noise
One of the most significant considerations for deciding if a hearing aid is suitable for your needs is its associated cost. The average price of a hearing aid can range anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000, depending on the type and style needed.
Choosing the Right Hearing Aid is Safe When Performed by a Board-Certified ENT Doctor
There are a variety of options available for hearing aids, and you and your board-certified physician are encouraged to discuss which choice of hearing aid is right for you.