Feb 08, 2013

In-Ear vs. Over-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Not all hearing aids are created equal. In fact, newly-developed technologies have given rise to a dizzying range of hearing aid types and styles. If you’re new to the hearing aid market or haven’t shopped around for new devices in a while, you might be shocked at what you find once you begin to look.

Of course, there are still two basic types of hearing aids: in-ear and over-the-ear. As technology has improved and encouraged the production of scaled-down devices, the former variety has recently become quite popular. However, over-the-ear or “behind-the-ear” hearing aids also have many advantages. Read on for this in-ear vs. over-the-ear hearing aid style comparison.

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About Over-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Also known as behind-the-ear hearing aids, over-the-ear devices are the oldest and most reliable form of hearing aids on the market. While they’re highly visible to casual observers, over-the-ear aids conform closely to the unique shape of the human ear and use the organ’s natural assets to amplify and focus ambient sounds.

Since they’re located outside of the ear canal and aren’t exposed to the dirt, earwax and moisture that can play havoc with in-the-ear hearing aids, these types of devices are perfect for kids and active adults who want to minimize any potential damage.

About In-Ear Hearing Aids

Although there are several different types of in-ear hearing aids, they’re all located either deep within the ear canal or inside of the cavity of the outer ear. While older varieties of this type of device were plainly visible to casual observers, substantial strides have been made towards reducing or even eliminating in-ear hearing aids’ visual profiles.

In-ear devices work by transmitting amplified sound waves into the inner ear and on towards the brain from a receiver fitted into the outer part of the ear canal.

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“Mini” Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids

In recent years, behind-the-ear and over-the-ear hearing aids have become smaller and less conspicuous thanks to the development of increasingly powerful digital motors and lightweight, flexible materials designed to transmit sound efficiently and effectively. The main core of the behind-the-ear device is typically connected to the inner ear via a transparent tube that can’t be seen by the casual observer.

Known as “open-fit BTEs,” most modern “mini” behind-the-ear hearing aids are designed to promote the comfort of the wearer and reduce the size and thickness of the tubing required to transmit sounds into the depths of the ear.

In-the-Canal Hearing Aids

In-the-canal hearing aids can be used in conjunction with both behind-the-ear and in-ear devices. This term describes a hearing aid that locates its specialized sound amplifier and receiver near the opening of the ear canal. This reduces the hearing aid’s “footprint” and may increase its ability to transmit amplified sounds.

These types of hearing aids tend to be made of soft materials that increase the comfort of the wearer and make chafing or “plugging” less likely. However, in-the-canal hearing aids can be more susceptible to feedback-related problems.

To determine the hearing aid type that best fits your needs and style, consult with a licensed hearing care professional. Central and Southern Utah residents, contact Nilsson Hearing Center today to schedule your free hearing consultation!

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