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Most hearing aid manufacturers produce a range of core products to suit the vast majority of patients. Every model in the range is available in a variety of styles from a discreet completely in the canal (CIC) hearing aid up to a power behind the ear (BTE) version.
The exceptions to this format are the relatively low volume ultra discreet invisible in canal (IIC) devices and super power models intended for very severe and profound hearing losses.
Our prices include all styles available unless specifically stated otherwise.
Technological features listed by manufacturers may only be available on certain models in a range. Below is a selection of images depicting each hearing aid style with an explanation of the features that may be unavailable on IIC, CIC or Mini RIC hearing aids.
Starkey introduced the UK to IIC hearing aids with the Soundlens in 2010, and very quickly Oticon,Phonak and other manufacturers followed suit.
When the ear canal size permits an IIC hearing aid can be positioned around the second bend of the meatus. This makes it undetectable to all casual observers of the user’s ear thanks to the even smaller parts now available.
Although IIC’s only have one microphone and no directional technology the wearer takes advantage of the human ear and its ability to attenuate sound arriving from the rear and to boost certain mid and high frequencies.
They are suitable for mild to moderately severe hearing losses but will not fit many people with small ear canals. Because the receiver and microphone are positioned deep in the ear canal the hearing aids are more prone to develop faults and all efforts must be made to keep them free of ear-wax.
For many years the CIC was considered to be the most cosmetically superior of all hearing aids. They can be manufactured for virtually all patients with mild to moderately severe hearing losses.
Siemens produce a superpower CIC called the Nitro that will fit severe losses but this does require quite a large ear canal to be successful.
Like the smaller IIC aids, these devices are single microphone and rely on the human ear to provide directional hearing. The technology employed will be multi-channel frequency mapped output and noise reduction.
Certain manufacturers market wireless versions of their CIC’s allowing program selection and audio streaming from bluetooth devices. However in reality because of the necessity to include extra wireless components, the finished article appears more like an in the canal device in size.
These devices are still relatively small and discreet compared to many other aids available and can fit mild to moderately severe hearing losses.
Being somewhat larger than invisible or completely in the canal hearing aids they are equipped with size 312 batteries that are easier to handle for a user with dexterity issues.
They are also large enough to be equipped with wireless circuitry, telecoil and a pair of directional microphones (see image).
This enables the use of the latest binaural signal processing technology (especially useful in background noise), remote controls for volume and program changes as well as audio signal streaming from phones, TV’s and other audio devices.
These devices consist of an ear-mould manufactured from acrylic or silicone, some “sound tubing” and the hearing aid itself that is located behind the ear. The sound tubing carries the amplified signal from the aid to the ear canal via the ear-mould and requires periodic cleaning and retubing.
This technology is very popular with the NHS as it can be used to treat even the most profound hearing losses. Training time required in audiology departments is reduced as only one hearing aid fits most losses.
The standard size BTE model will be supplied with all the technological features (eg wireless binaural sgnal processing that a manufacturer lists for a given model range in its brochures or online.
BTE hearing aids are available in a choice of colours and will usually be designed with external switches to enable program and volume changes without the use of a remote control.
RIC devices may also be referred to as RITE (Receiver in the Ear) or RIE (Receiver in Ear) hearing aids depending upon the manufacturer.
They can be supplied with a variety of different sized “eartips” in open, semi-open or closed styles enabling their fitment to a wide range of hearing losses. They can even be specified with custom ear-moulds to fit severe losses.
Because the receiver is located in the ear a RIC device can be made smaller than a standard BTE but mostly still includes wireless capabilities.
If an open fitting is possible (dependent upon hearing loss and ear canal acoustics) the user will benefit from improved comfort as their own voice will sound more natural. Fatigue will be reduced as less amplification will be required because many sounds will still be heard through the ear naturally.
ITE hearing aids are available in two configurations: half-shell and full-shell. The image on the right hand side depicts a full-shell device that completely fills the entrance to the ear canal. A half-shell device will be smaller than this but larger than an ITC hearing aid.
The larger shell size affords a better acoustic seal, thus enabling more amplification to be delivered to the user’s auditory system. Coupled with the latest anti-feedback technology it is now possible to fit all but the most profound hearing losses with in the ear technology.
A full-shell device is usually supplied with a size 13 battery compartment and is the most suitable for people with dexterity problems as they are easier to handle and require less battery changes.
Full-shell devices can be specified with all the latest technological features.
Remote microphone hearing aids are the speciality of Danish manufacturer Resound. They can be custom manufactured to exactly fit the ear canal (see image) or be supplied in a ready to wear configuration called the Lex.
The microphone that you can see at the top of the hearing aid image is located in a fold at the top of the ear. If you look closely at the image of the ear you will see this placement.
This positioning shields the microphone from wind noise and makes them an ideal hearing aid for use out-doors.
They are only suitable for mild to moderate losses that would usually be best treated with an open fitting. However some users opt for these devices as an alternative to be worn in windy conditions. Replacing them with their main open fitting RIC’s when indoors.