Hearing loss affects many individuals of almost every age group. There are about 40 million citizens across the country who currently have this condition. If you think you’re one of these people, it’s crucial to know what kind of hearing aids device are available to you. Read on to learn about some of the most common ones.
Removable or Detachable Hearing Aids
These are hearing aids that you can easily wear and remove anytime. They’re designed to pick up and amplify sound for the wearer. There are analog models that work like a microphone and amplifier combo and digital ones that convert perceived sound into data before playing it for the user through a speaker. The latter can be programmed to enhance specific frequencies that the user has trouble hearing. These devices come in different forms, such as:
- Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Models
These models are what people usually think of when they encounter the term “hearing aids.” They’re the classic C-shaped device that can fit snugly behind the ear, with the speaker portion built into an ear mold that’s customized to each user’s ear canal. Some models have the speaker attached to a thin tube instead, which many prefer because it doesn’t completely block the ear’s opening.
- In-Ear Models
This device fits into a person’s ear canal and rests just near its opening, similar to the wireless buds one would use for listening to music. They’re more discreet when worn since they’re much smaller than behind-the-ear models. These are perfect for those who don’t want to draw attention to their device. They come in various sizes, ranging from full-shell models that sit on the outer ear bowl to ones that only cover the ear canal.
Read Also: When to See An ENT Specialist?
Hearing Device Implants
These are hearing aid devices that are surgically implanted. They send sound or vibrations directly into the ear, unlike the removable models that only amplify the sound they receive. They’re mostly designed for people who have severe inner ear damage that prevents them from using a removable device. They’re also great for patients who want more permanent solutions for hearing loss. Here are a few common options for these devices:
- Bone-Anchored or Bone Conduction Implants
These devices are hooked onto a person’s skull in the area behind the ear. They perceive sound through an external receiver and transmit the waves through the bone and into the inner ear. They are good for patients who have ear canal damage or problems with their middle ear structures that prevent the sound from traveling to the cochlea. They’re also recommended for people who have hearing loss in only one ear.
- Middle Ear Implants
These implants directly involve the parts of the middle ear. Sound is picked up by the external receiver that’s embedded under their skin. The device then transmits the sound by moving the parts in the middle ear. Some models skip these sections and place the vibrating mechanism directly onto the membrane window of the cochlea. These are good for those who have both ear canal and middle ear damage.
- Cochlear Implants
If there is extensive damage in the middle ear and inner ear area, bone-anchored and middle ear devices will not work. This type of hearing loss can only be addressed by using a cochlear implant. Instead of stimulating the parts of the ear, the instrument sends signals directly to the auditory nerve that’s attached to the cochlea. This information will then be perceived and interpreted by the brain.
- Auditory Brainstem Implants (ABI)
Sometimes the problem is the auditory nerve itself, in which case the person won’t be able to hear even if all the parts of the ear can perceive sound. Thankfully, because of the advancements in modern medicine, this issue can be addressed with the use of auditory brainstem implants. On the outside, they look like any other implant, but these devices are actually embedded near the brain stem. They transmit sound and speech data directly to this area.
These are just some of the most common types of devices out there for people with hearing loss. To determine the state of your ear health and identify which is the best hearing aid for you, consult an otolaryngologist and audiologist.