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As you begin your journey to better hearing, you’ll find an overwhelming number of hearing aid types and styles. Each hearing aid style accomplishes the same general goal by capturing sound and amplifying it based on your specific hearing loss diagnosis. However, some types of hearing aids are designed for mild to moderate hearing loss, while others are better equipped for severe hearing loss. Additionally, connectivity options, style, and comfort also vary by model. Here’s an overview of each hearing aid style.

What type of hearing aids are available?

There are three main hearing aid styles, and each one varies slightly depending on the brand and model that you choose to purchase.
Your audiologist can also guide your decision when purchasing a hearing aid to ensure that it aligns with your lifestyle and degree of hearing loss.
Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid
The BTE model is powerful and capable of treating almost any degree of hearing loss.
In the ear (ITE) hearing aid
Unlike the BTE or RIC models, the ITE hearing aid sits entirely inside the ear, making it desirable for anyone that uses reading glasses.
The RIC model is ideal for patients with mild or moderate hearing loss that want to make their hearing aid invisible.

The difference between digital and analog hearing aids

Hearing aids not only come in a variety of styles, but they also come in two different technology types, analog and digital. Analog hearing aids capture sound through a microphone that amplifies the audio before sending it to speakers in your ear.

Unfortunately, people typically don't experience deafness equally among all frequencies. Therefore, the increased audio can become uncomfortable for patients that only experience deafness at certain frequencies.

Analog hearing aids are the traditional style of hearing aid, and the simplicity of the design typically makes it a more economical option.

Digital hearing aids are a newer technology that the majority of manufacturers have now adopted. This mechanism accepts sound through a microphone. Rather than making every sound louder, it translates the sound into computer code. This allows the sound to be cleaned and amplified based on that person's hearing preferences.

The difference between open and closed fittings

Finally, hearing aids also come in two different fitting styles, open and closed. An open style hearing aid sits on the external ear canal. This allows natural sound to still pass through the ear canal, which helps reduce occlusion. Open hearing aids are typically used for mild to moderate hearing loss and are used in behind-the-ear styles.
A closed fitting style blocks the majority of the ear canal with only small ventilation. This can be used in a variety of hearing aid styles and is ideal for mild to severe hearing loss. As the closed style fitting sits securely inside the ear, it's suitable for those with active lifestyles. The closed style fitting also allows for a broad range of connectivity features.

Additional hearing aid solutions

While these are the most common hearing aid solutions, there are other solutions available for more severe hearing loss. For example, if a part of the ear is damaged, middle ear implants, cochlear implants, and brainstem implants deliver are alternatives. These options send sound directly to the auditory nerve and bypass the damaged part of the ear.

Additionally, patients that experience complete hearing loss in one ear or conductive hearing loss may use bone conduction or bone-anchored solutions. Talk to your audiologist to learn what is best for you.