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With ever-advancing technologies, hearing aids are becoming more sophisticated, capable, and discreet. Research suggests that helping to restore a person’s hearing can improve their overall well-being.
- Best behind-the-ear hearing (BTE) aid: MDHearingAid AIR
- Best receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) hearing aid: Oticon miniRITE T
- Best in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid: Eargo MAX
- Best in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid: Widex EVOKE XP
- Best completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid: HA-1800 Cool Aids
- Best rechargeable hearing aid: Phonak Audeo B-R
- Best battery powered hearing aid: Signia Motion 13 Nx
- Best Bluetooth hearing aid: ReSound LiNX Quattro
- Best invisible hearing aid: Starkey Picasso
Hearing aids are small devices that people wear in or behind the ear. They magnify sound vibrations, which helps hair cells convert the vibrations into signals that pass to the brain and allow an individual to hear.
Modern hearing aids have digital signal processing that adapts to different listening environments. Common features
- multichannel compression that allows people to adjust frequency bands and noise levels
- directional microphones that can improve sound quality by adjusting to different directions
- noise reduction features that reduce background noise
Some more advanced hearing aids may offer automatic adaption of the same features.
There are several varieties of hearing aids. Some may be more or less suitable for a person depending on their requirement and preference.
BTE hearing aids are plastic cases that a person wears behind their ear. The device connects to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear.
Some BTE hearing aids have a tube instead of an earmold that goes into the ear canal. This type of BTE hearing aid may benefit those who experience earwax buildup, as the tube does not block the outer ear.
BTE hearing aids are suitable for people of all ages with mild to severe hearing loss.
ITE hearing aids are hard plastic molds that sit inside the outer ear. These hearing aids may include a telecoil feature. Telecoil technology may make it easier for people to hear telephone conversations and sounds emitted from sound systems.
ITE hearing aids are suitable for a person with mild to severe hearing loss.
RITE hearing aids are similar to BTE hearing aids. However, the part of the hearing aid that sits behind the ear is smaller. A thin wire connects to a speaker inside the ear’s opening.
RITE hearing aids are suitable for many different types of hearing loss.
ITC hearing aids fit into the ear canal. Manufacturers make these hearing aids to fit the size and shape of a person’s ear canal.
CIC hearing aids fit into the ear canal in the same way as ITC hearing aids. However, these are less visible than other products.
Some types of hearing aids are made specifically for different types of hearing loss or hearing conditions.
A tinnitus masker is a hearing aid that may be able to mask tinnitus. This product can operate as both a hearing aid and a tinnitus masker.
Bone conduction hearing aid
A bone conduction hearing aid, or a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA), transmits sound via bone vibration.
Surgeons implant either a magnet or a fixture that attaches to a processor outside of a person’s head.
When a person has hearing loss in one ear, CROS hearing aids transmit sound from the ear with diminished hearing to the other.
When an individual has hearing loss in both ears, BiCROS hearing aids transmit sounds from one ear to the ear with better hearing.
Sounds can transmit either wirelessly or through a wire.
Suitable for those with severe hearing loss, body-worn hearing aids are small boxes that connect to earphones. A person can clip the box to clothing or put it into a pocket.
This device is suitable for those who have severe hearing loss.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.
The AIR BTE hearing aid has four settings that a person can choose according to their environment, including:
The company states that this hearing aid is suitable for theatres, churches, watching TV, dinner parties, and other similar settings.
This product does not cause any issues or interferences when people use the telephone. Additionally, there is no feedback when a person who uses this hearing aid comes into close contact with another hearing aid.
The company includes free lifetime support and offers a 45-day trial.
This RITE hearing aid sits behind the ear with a thin wire feeding a speaker into the ear canal.
The company state they made this hearing aid for use with the iPhone. It features telecoil technology and has simple push-button controls.
The miniRITE T is suitable for mild to severe hearing loss, and the company provides a risk-free trial.
Eargo provides this ITC hearing aid that uses medical-grade silicone fibers that conduct sound.
The hearing aids have four different sound profiles, feature noise reduction, and have a rechargeable case.
The company offers a 45-day trial and a 12-month warranty.
This ITE hearing aid comes in several colors. It is fully automatic, adapting to the level of sound in any environment.
The company states that this product has easy battery access and is small and discreet.
Widex provides a free trial of their EVOKE XP, but they are not available for purchase online.
Widex states that a licensed professional must provide consultation, fitting, and maintenance for a person to receive the full benefit of their product. Therefore, they only provide their hearing aids to retailers that offer in-person consultation and fitting services.
Manufactured by Hearing Assist, this CIC hearing aid fits inside the ear canal, making it almost entirely invisible and easy to wear.
Hearing Assist states that this product does not require a custom mold of the ear because its universal fit makes it suitable for most ears.
This model comes in black, which blends in with the shadow of the ear canal. It has eight channels allowing for features such as:
- ambient noise reduction
- suppression of feedback
- noise compression
These hearing aids are compatible with most phones. This rechargeable hearing aid model is only available in RIC style.
The company states that this hearing aid will provide the following battery life based on charging times:
- 15 minutes of charging: 2 hours of power
- 30-minute of charging: 6 hours of power
- 3-hour of charging: 24 hours of power
Phonak claims that their rechargeable hearing aids can last up to 6 years. A portable mini charger that is suitable for travel is available.
This hearing aid uses size 13 (orange) disposable batteries, which may suit people who do not want to use a charger regularly.
It is available in ten different colors but is discreet, as it sits behind the ear. It is available with an optional telecoil. It is compatible with the Signia app, which allows for easy customization and control of the hearing aid.
Signia claims that this hearing aid is suitable for mild to profound hearing loss.
This Bluetooth hearing aid can stream directly to Bluetooth-compatible devices without using an intermediate device. People can use it to stream TV, audio, and more directly to their hearing aids.
ReSound provides an app that allows users to customize and control their hearing aids from their smartphones. For example, the app enables users to adjust volume based on location or setting, check the battery status, and find missing hearing aids.
This model is available in three different designs:
- receiver-in-ear (RIE)
- behind-the-ear (BTE)
- custom-crafted model
These hearing aids use rechargeable batteries and can last up to 30 hours after a complete charge.
This hearing aid is discreet and near-invisible and is available in a choice of six skin colors. It uses disposable batteries.
The model is available in the following styles:
- invisible-in-canal (IIC)
- in-the-canal (ITC)
- completely-in-canal (CIC)
- in-the-ear (ITE)
This hearing aid has Bluetooth technology so users can stream TV, phone calls, and audio directly to the device. There is also a customizable tinnitus relief function.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), individuals should consider the following before purchasing a hearing aid:
- which option provides the most useful features for their needs
- the total cost of the hearing aid
- whether there is a trial period
- whether a company offer a warranty, how long that warranty lasts, and what it covers
- whether the manufacturer will provide temporary replacement hearing aids if the originals need repairing
Features to look out for
A person may work with an audiologist to determine what features would benefit them in a hearing aid. A non-exhaustive list of available features people may look for include:
- noise reduction capability
- directional microphones
- telecoil technology
- rechargeable batteries
- multichannel compression
There are various hearing aids available, and some may be more suitable for certain hearing conditions than others. Individuals should always consider the warranties and trial periods a hearing aid manufacturer offers.