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Hearing Aids

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Hearing Aids and Personal Sound Amplification Products: What You May Want to Know

Are you or a loved one having a hard time hearing? Perhaps you’re thinking about getting a hearing aid.

Hearing aid technology keeps evolving, which means there’s a growing variety of styles and features to consider.

Hearing aids are medical devices worn behind or in the ear. They can improve hearing by making sounds louder. However, hearing aids usually won’t restore your hearing to normal levels or quality.

In some cases, hearing loss is temporary and can be restored with medical help. In other cases, it’s permanent but can be improved with hearing aids.

Styles of Hearing Aids
Styles of Hearing Aids: Behind the ear, Receiver in the canal or ear, In the ear, In the canal, and Completely in the canal

 

 

Behind-the-ear (BTE) aids: BTE hearing aids are generally the largest hearing aid style. A plastic case containing most of the electronics sits behind the ear and is connected to an earmold that fits in the ear canal. BTE hearing aids can be used by people of all ages. The style is often chosen for young children because it can be adapted as they grow.

Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) aids: RIC (or mini receiver-in-the-ear; mini RITE) hearing aids sit behind the ear but are typically smaller than a BTE. The RIC hearing aid is attached to a tube housing a small wire with a dome-shaped tip at the end that rests in the ear canal (in some cases, earmolds are used). The RIC design allows more of the ear canal to remain open and is less visible than the BTE style.

In-the-ear (ITE) aids: This hearing aid sits completely in the outer ear (the “bowl” of the ear). All the hearing aid electronics are housed in a custom-fit shell.

In-the-canal (ITC) aids and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) aids: These are the smallest hearing aids currently available. The electronics are contained in a small custom-fit shell that fits partly or completely into the ear canal.  Some people may like them because they are less noticeable while other people may find them harder to handle.

Hearing aids usually are sold by:

  • audiologists
  • ear, nose and throat doctors
  • sellers licensed to dispense hearing aids, such as instrument specialists

The FDA requires a statement of a doctor’s exam before the sale of hearing aids for children (younger than 18 years of age).

To broaden access to hearing aids, the FDA is proposing a new category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids that could be purchased in the store or online without seeing a physician for an exam or an audiologist for help with fitting.

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