About Hearing Aids | Canadian Hearing Society
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About Hearing Aids

Today’s hearing aids use state-of-the-art technology and are available in different styles with a variety of features, colours and designs. Most are digital and have computer chips inside that process sounds and speech. 

Depending on the complexity of the chip, hearing aids have access to different functions and options related to digital signal processing, feedback cancellation, noise reduction, directional microphones, listening programs, telephone options, wireless connectivity, and Bluetooth accessories – all to assist in your hearing. They are designed to enhance your daily life and improve communication without hindering your lifestyle.

Many factors are involved in determining the hearing aid that‘s best for you, including the amount of hearing loss you have and the listening situations and environments you experience on a daily basis.

The audiologists at CHS are here to help guide you through the process — from hearing testing to choosing the hearing aids that suit your unique needs and budget.

Call one of our CHS locations where hearing aid evaluations, sales and service are offered or complete our online contact form.

Learn more:

How hearing aids work
Benefits and limitations of hearing aids
Types of hearing aids
Buying a hearing aid: what you need to know
Tips on hearing aid care

How hearing aids work

All hearing aids share basic parts and similarities, which essentially make them miniature amplification systems. The basic components are:

  • A microphone
  • An amplifier (most use digital signal processing)
  • A miniature loudspeaker called a receiver
  • An earmold, dome or an individual shell for custom hearing aids
  • A battery

At the most basic level, hearing aids are amplifiers that selectively increase volume for the sounds you need to hear. They employ strategies that make soft sounds audible and at the same time, make moderate or loud sounds comfortable. The goal is to help you hear in both noisy and quiet listening environments.

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How to be a successful hearing aid user

Even though technology has improved greatly over the years, hearing aids are still an imperfect solution to a complicated problem. As such, hearing aid users need to have a realistic understanding of both their benefits and limitations. 

There are three important factors to consider in order to use a hearing aid successfully:

  1. You have to be motivated and open to addressing your communication challenges.
  2. The hearing aid has to be the right match with all the appropriate features necessary to address your desired communication outcome.
  3. The audiologist has be someone you connect with and trust; one who is truly listening to what you want and has the tools to help you.

If these three factors fall into place, your hearing aid experience should run smoothly and set the stage for a positive outcome.

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Types of hearing aids 

Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Behind-the-ear hearing aids (BTE) are used for all types of hearing loss, from mild to profound. They are sometimes easier to handle since they are larger than custom hearing aids. They come in a variety of sizes, from miniature to super power for profound hearing losses.

Traditional BTEs require a custom-fit earmold to couple the hearing aid to the ear and direct the sound into the ear canal. This earmold helps hold the hearing aid in place and can help provide the best acoustics depending on the hearing loss.

The range of styles includes:

Traditional Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid

BTE (traditional style with custom ear mold)

Behind-the-ear hearing aids hook over the top of your ear and rest behind the ear. The hearing aid picks up sound, amplifies it and carries the amplified sound to an earmold that fits inside your ear canal. This type of aid is appropriate for almost all types of hearing loss and for people of all ages. 

A behind-the-ear hearing aid is:

  • Thought to be the largest, most visible type of hearing aid, but some new versions are smaller, streamlined and barely visible
  • Capable of more amplification and flexibility than other hearing aid styles
Behind-the-Ear Open-Fit Hearing Aid

BTE – Open-Fit Hearing Aids

These are usually very small, although larger behind-the-ear devices can be modified for a more “open” fit. Sound travels from the instrument through a small tube or wire to a tiny dome in the ear canal. These aids leave the ear canal open, so they're best for mild to moderate high-frequency losses where low-frequency hearing is still normal or near normal. An open-fit hearing aid: 

  • Is less visible
  • Doesn’t plug the ear like in-the-canal hearing aids do 
  • May use very small batteries
  • Often lacks manual adjustments due to the small size

BTE – Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

RIC hearing aids look similar to open-fit hearing aids, but the hearing aid receiver is external to the instrument and is placed into the ear canal. This external placement of the receiver allows the hearing aid to be as small as possible, making it extremely discreet and lightweight. A RIC hearing aid:

  • Is the most popular style of hearing aid
  • Is less visible
  • Is suitable for mild to severe hearing loss
  • Reduces perception of hollow or echo-like sounds of your own voice
  • Enhances natural sound quality

Custom Hearing Aids

Custom hearing aids are appropriate for mild to severe hearing loss. They fit entirely within the ear and are fitted individually based on an impression of your ear.

The range of styles includes:

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aid

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC)

CIC hearing aids are custom-moulded to fit inside your ear canal and can improve mild to moderate hearing loss in adults. A CIC hearing aid:

  • Is the least noticeable in the ear
  • Is less likely to pick up wind noise because the ear protects the instrument
  • Is easy to use with the telephone in most cases
  • Uses smaller batteries, which typically don't last as long as larger batteries
  • Doesn't contain extra features, such as volume control (unless by remote) or directional microphones
In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aid

In-the-Canal (ITC)

An ITC hearing aid is custom-moulded and fits partly in the ear canal, but not as deeply as a completely-in-the-canal aid. This hearing aid can improve mild to moderate hearing loss in adults.

An ITC hearing aid:

  • Is less visible in the ear
  • Is easy to use with the telephone
  • Includes features that won't fit on CIC aids, but the small size can make the features difficult to adjust
  • May not fit well in smaller ears
Half Shell (HS) Hearing Aid

Half Shell (HS)

A larger version of the ITC hearing aid, the half-shell is custom-moulded and fills the lower portion of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear. This style is appropriate for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. A HS hearing aid:

  • Is bigger than an in-the-canal hearing aid
  • Is a little easier to handle than smaller hearing aids
  • Includes additional features, such as directional microphones and volume control
  • Fits most ears
In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aid

In-the-Ear (ITE)

An in-the-ear (full-shell) hearing aid is custom-moulded and fills most of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear. This style is helpful for people with mild to severe hearing loss. An ITE (full-shell) hearing aid: 

  • Is more visible to others
  • May pick up wind noise
  • Contains helpful features that are easier to adjust, such as volume control
  • Is generally easier to insert into the ear
  • Uses larger batteries, which typically last longer and are easier to handle

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Buying a hearing aid? Here’s what you need to know

Buying a hearing aid can be stressful. Between sorting through the many advertisements and coming to terms with the high cost of hearing aids, the entire process can be confusing and overwhelming. But fear not: in this article, we will provide some guidance and advice to help you feel better prepared.

Hearing aid evaluation

During the hearing aid evaluation, a CHS audiologist will walk you through quite a bit of information, helping you understand your hearing test (called an audiogram) and answering questions about your overall communication ability. Don’t be shy in this first step: understanding the audiogram is an important starting point when purchasing hearing aids.

Sizes and types of hearing aids

After explaining your audiogram, our audiologist will review the various sizes and styles of hearing aids to help determine which ones are right for you. Details may include your colour preference, the battery type, volume control issues, options for using the hearing aid with the telephone, remote control issues (if the hearing aid comes with one), and information on any other buttons or switches.

At this point, you will be asked specific questions about your communication abilities, lifestyle and what you want the hearing aids to accomplish in terms of your listening needs.

Depending on your overall communication goals, our audiologist will make some recommendations around the level of technology that will best suit your needs. Hearing aid technology has come a long way. Many hearing aids today have different functions and options related to digital signal processing, feedback cancellation, noise reduction, directional microphones, listening programs, telephone options, wireless connectivity and Bluetooth accessories – all to assist in your hearing.      

Price and payment

In a perfect world, cost wouldn’t be an issue, but like many other products on the market, hearing aids have different price points as well. There are three levels of technology: entry, mid-range and advanced. Based on all of the information you’ve discussed with the audiologist, he/she will advise you on which level of technology would work best for you. Many people fall into the entry or mid-range device category for price and technology. However, if you have a particularly busy lifestyle with high demands on communication based on work, school, recreational or social interactions, then advanced technology may be recommended.

How to be successful

There are three important factors to being successful in buying a hearing aid:

1) Be motivated and open to addressing your communication challenges.
2) Find the right hearing aid match with all the appropriate features necessary to address your desired communication outcome.
3) Find an audiologist at CHS you connect with and trust, one who is truly listening to what you want and has the tools to help you.

If all three of these things fall into place, your hearing aid purchasing experience should run smoothly and set the stage for a positive outcome.

The right hearing aid can make a difference. This holiday season, save up to $1,000 on a pair of hearing aids. Learn more about this limited time offer

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Quick Tips: Hearing Aid Care

It’s not easy being a hearing aid. They have to survive moisture, heat, ear wax, skin flakes, oil, pets and hair care products not to mention being dropped and misplaced. To keep your hearing aids functioning properly, here are some practical tips:

  • Always keep your hearing aids clean and dry.
  • To preserve battery life when you’re not wearing your hearing aids, open the battery compartment door so the battery is not in contact with the internal components.
  • Make a habit of cleaning your hearing aids on a daily basis.
  • Never use household cleaning fluids to clean your hearing aids.
  • At night, store your hearing aids in a drying kit.
  • Always check to make sure you’ve removed your hearing aids before swimming, showering or applying hairspray. It’s a good idea to check your pockets before washing clothes as well.
  • Pets love to chew hearing aids, so make sure to keep them in a safe place when not in use.
  • Always have spare parts on hand, such as tubes, domes and batteries.
  • Consider getting a spare pair of hearing aids as a back-up.

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