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Finding the right hearing solution reconnects you to a world of sound. You’re able to enjoy the little sounds that make a day special; like the birds in the morning or the drip of a raindrop. You can once again feel confident chatting with family and friends, never missing precious moments. But getting a hearing aid is just the beginning.

Highlight
Receiver-in-canal (RIC) New
Open-fit hearing aid that used a thin, plastic micro tube extending into the ear canal.
Behind-the-ear (BTE)
Popular for their reliability and long life, BTE devices are suitable for a wide range of hearing loss.
In-the-Ear (ITE)
Custom hearing aids that fit within the ear rather than behind it and are virtually invisible.
Lyric
Lyric is a breakthrough technology that provides the ultimate discretion in hearing. It's the first 100% invisible hearing device.

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.

Below you will find a brief summary of the different types of hearing aid, based on the features they offer.

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.

 
Both analog and digital hearing aids are available in two main types: behind-in-the ear and in-the-ear.

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 are behind-the-ear (BTE) models?

These hearing aids are worn behind the ear, just above the concha. The small, clear tube transmits sound directly into the eardrum and is also used to keep the hearing aid in place. 

BTE models are available in a variety of styles, sizes and colours. They are also sweat, dust and water resistant.
 

Advantages of BTE models:

  • Space for larger and more powerful batteries. Rechargable options available. 
  • Larger program selection buttons that are easier to operate
  • Variety of colour options 
  • Connection to mobile phones, TV and stereo’s via Bluetooth 

Disadvantages of BTE models

  • Less suitable for people who wear eyeglasses
  • Prevents use of the natural functions of the concha
  • Less discreet

Structure of a BTE hearing aid

All hearing aids feature the same key components. For example, a behind-the-ear hearing aid has the following functions:
  • Microphone – Picks up sounds and converts them into electrical signals
  • Amplifier – Increases the volume of the microphone and filters out irrelevant sounds
  • Loudspeaker – Converts electrical signals into acoustic signals
  • Speech processor – Adjusts signals to the wearer's individual hearing needs
  • Volume regulator – Lets the wearer control the volume
  • Ear hook – Connects the hearing aid and the sound tube
  • Audio input – Picks up signals from other external devices
  • Battery powered and rechargable options available
The hearing aid is connected to the ear via a sound tube, which ends in a fixing piece, or earpiece/ear shell (earmold). A variation on the classic BTE hearing aid is the external receiver model (receiver-in-canal, or RIC), in which the loudspeaker sits inside the ear, thus transmitting sound directly to the eardrum.

Other behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids

Receiver-in-canal (RIC) and Micro-behind-the-ear models
RIC and Micro-behind-the-ear hearing aids are smaller BTE options. They are equipped with receivers that transmit sound directly in the ear canal. They are worn comfortably behind the ear, come in a variety of colours and have Bluetooth capabilities. 

What are in-the-ear (ITE) models?

ITE Models are a discreet option that sit inside the ear itself.  The device's electronics are encased inside an acrylic shell that is inserted into the ear like an earplug, sending sound directly into the ear canal. Some ITE devices have an antenna-like plastic tab for easy removal.

In-the-ear hearing aids are self-contained units. Volume can be adjusted and programs can be selected by remote control. Many models can be connected wirelessly to mobile phones and TVs.  

Advantages of ITE devices

  • Extremely discreet and barely visible from the outside
  • Invisible options available
  • Easy to insert
  • Bluetooth capability

Disadvantages of ITE devices

  • Only suitable for those with mild or moderate hearing loss
  • Use depends on the size of the ear canal
  • The battery needs to be changed frequently
  • An audio connection, in the form of an audio shoe, is not possible due to lack of space, and a T-loop can only be attached to concha models

The following types of in-the-ear hearing aids are available:

In-the-ear (ITE)
The housing of this hearing aid completely fills the concha. The advantages include a longer battery life, the availability of a power version for severe hearing loss, and improved operation.

In-the-canal (ITC)
This is a small and discreet custom model. The hearing aid housing sits in the ear canal, thus only filling half of the concha.

Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)
The smallest custom model, the CIC offers the ultimate in discretion as it is virtually invisible from the outside. These devices typically have a nylon strand to facilitate removal from the ear.

What other designs 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 noisers
Sounds produced by the noiser are transmitted to the ears to cancel out the tinnitus in the background.
Lyric
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.

Which brands do we carry?

Triton Hearing carries the latest in hearing aid technology with a wide range of products for nearly every level of hearing loss. 

Other topics

Hearing aid funding
How hearing aids work
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