Category: Hearing Aids
When you see a blue sign of a human ear, that's a cue to hearing aid users that they can press a tiny button to hear a special broadcast sent directly to their device. This is called a hearing loop, a thin copper wire that radiates electromagnetic signals in a room. A tiny receiver called a telecoil built into most hearing aids and cochlear implants picks up the signal. With the flip of a switch on the device, sound comes through with greater clarity than can be heard by someone with normal hearing. This might be music, sound from a movie, a or a speaker. Hearing loops are better known in Europe than in the US, where only about a thousand have been installed in museums, stores, theaters, airports, and sports arenas.
Here is a look at the 5 types of hearing aid models along with their advantages and costs.
▪ BTEs "behind the ear"
These are the familiar crescent-shaped instruments first developed in the late 1940s. These durable aids include a receiver, microphone and amplifier that fits over the ear. The small plastic case is worn behind the ear and connects to an ear mold inside the ear. It directs sound into the ear canal through a tube and custom-fitted ear mold. The most options and is easiest to handle. Picks up sound and processes it into electrical impulses that are sent through a wire to the speaker. Cost: $500 to $2,900 per ear.
▪ "mini" BTEs or OTE (on the ear)
These are the newest aids. They dramatically reduces the size of the crescent and replaces the bulky wire and speaker with a clear, thin tube. They cost $700 to $2,350 per ear.ITEs "in-the-ear" Smaller than BTEs, these fit into the outer ear and project slightly into the ear canal. Fairly easy to handle and comes with many features. These can be ordered with or without dual microphones, which provide information to the computer to analyze and reduce background noise. It comes in full shell size and the smaller, less-visible "half shell" size. Cost: $500 to $2,400 per ear.
▪ ITCs "in the canal"
This variation on the in-the-ear models protrudes only slightly into the outer ear. They are partially visible though smaller than ITEs. Not for people with severe or profound hearing loss. Fewer features and more difficult to handle. Cost: $650 to $2,350 per ear.
▪ CIC "completely in canal"
The smallest but most difficult to handle model, these customized hearing aids are tucked so far down that it comes with a plastic thread to pull it out; They are rarely visible. Not for people with severe or profound hearing loss, smaller batteries with short life; will last no more than 7 years. Impressions are taken of the ear canal to fashion the aids. Cost: $500 to $2,900 per ear.
▪ IOT "invisible open technology"
A one-size-fits-all model, these aids are a variation on CIC aids but are not custom-fitted. Sometimes referred to as "fit-and-go," it can be programmed in one visit to a hearing aid center. Cost: $1,500 to $1,900 per ear.
State-licensed hearing-aid specialists need only a high-school education, but have to pass tests proving their competence to administer hearing exams, fit devices and recognize underlying physical problems. Audiologists must have at least a master's degree, though they generally aren't medical doctors. Many states require that consumers be allowed to return hearing aids within 30 days.