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Hearing Aids come in a variety of styles, shapes, and sizes

As with all types of technology, hearing aids continue to evolve, meaning you have more choices now than ever. Gone are the days of bulky, uncomfortable, and obvious devices—but with all the options you may feel a bit overwhelmed. The hearing aid you select needs to do more than address your hearing needs, but support your healthy and active lifestyle. Below is a closer look at the current options in the market, compiled to help you make an informed decision. For further guidance, our hearing experts are always here to assist.

Understanding Analog Hearing Aids

Analog hearing aids are the option many people remember from the past and the device you may be most familiar with. They were essentially a sound amplifier. They had manual volume and controls and were designed for non-competitive environments—like watching TV, listening to the radio, or having a direct conversation. While analog hearing aids were able to positively impact a patient's life, their capabilities were limited, and digital technology has almost completely replaced this style of device.

The New Generation Of Hearing Aids Have Gone Wireless

Just as with all other types of wireless technology, wireless hearing aids offer extreme convenience and flexibility. They go far beyond that of amplifying sound, to working as truly smart technology.

· Connect wirelessly to your TV, smartphone, landline, music playlist, and more to stream your desired audio straight to your hearing aid.

· Remotely manage volume and settings from your linked handheld electronics, such as your smartphone or notebook.

· Selective sound technology “prioritizes” sound, and muffles the background distractions—without the need to increase overall volume.

Beyond Analog And Wireless—Which Hearing Aid Is Right For You?

Beyond analog and wireless, you still have many options to choose from. Each hearing aid needs to be fitted, programmed, and selected to support your individual hearing needs—and there are multiple styles, and hundreds of options to choose from. You can narrow down your selection by choosing from the most popular styles below.

BTE Hearing Aids

Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids are far less obvious than in years past. Their sound capabilities are effective for all levels of hearing loss. BTEs are made from a hard plastic casing, that is fitted behind the top of your ear. A custom ear mold contours to your ear canal, ensuring a comfortable fit. BTEs can easily be hidden by your hair.

BTEs will successfully boost your hearing, are available in a variety of discreet colors. They can be programmed to meet your specific hearing needs.

ITE Hearing Aids

In the ear (ITE) hearing aids provide superior sound benefits, ideal for anyone with severe hearing loss. They are molded to match the contours of your ears, meaning that even those with mild hearing loss, or limited dexterity never need to worry about their hearing aid slipping off.

Hassle-free is the objective, which is why ITE aids features include automatic programming, telecoil, ear-to-ear communication, and more. Available in a wide variety of colors to match your skin tone.

RIC Hearing Aids

Receiver in the ear (RIC) hearing aids are perfect for the active adult, who has mild to severe hearing loss—but requires a discreet hearing aid. The RIC consists of a small hard plastic casing worn behind your ear, and a micro-receiver that is fitted to remain all but invisible within your ear canal. It features an ultra-thin wire with advanced directional microphone technology. This means that you can contribute effectively to conversations in business meetings, at networking events, or in crowded environments—because your RIC will detect and amplify the desired sounds, and minimize the background distractions.

RIC aids can be programed to meet your needs for telecoil, automatic programming, volume, settings, alerts—and Bluetooth technology which allows you to connect to, and manage your hearing aid remotely.

IC And CID Hearing Aids

In the canal (IC) and completely in the canal (CID) hearing aids are the smallest and most discreet hearing aids of all. These sound amplifiers are made from a teeny-tiny plastic casing, that is 3 cm long—or less. These invisible hearing aids remain close to the eardrum, and are designed for mild to moderate hearing loss. They come standard with wireless capabilities, and the full range of standard features.

Extended Wear Hearing Aids

Extended wear hearing aids are designed to remain in the ear canal for days, or even months at a time. These in the canal hearing aids are comfortable, and have a long lasting battery. They are perfect for mild to moderate hearing loss, and due to their close proximity to your eardrum—can effectively target the sound you want to hear.

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Advanced Features Of Modern Hearing Aids

If you are unfamiliar with hearing aids, some of the programming and advanced features above may be foreign, because they go well beyond volume control. Some of the most common features you should familiarize yourself with, and discuss with your hearing consulting include:

· Noise management programs

· Automatic adjustments

· Ear to ear communication

· Function controls

· Directional microphones

· Wireless/Bluetooth technology and controls

· Music programming

· Telecoil

What Is An Assistive Listening Device?

Another option those with hearing loss consider are assistive listening devices (ALD). Just as with hearing aids, there are multiple assistive listening devices to choose from. These handheld devices are approximately the size of a cellphone, and can be a stepping stone to a more traditional hearing aid—or they can be used as a supportive device with your current hearing aid or cochlear implant to further improve your hearing.

· ALDs are designed to effectively detect, prioritize, and amplify the sounds you want to hear—and minimize background noise.

· Augmented and alternative communication devices (AAC) are a form of ALDs that assists those with verbal communication limitations to communicate effectively. This could include speech synthesizers, picture boards, and more.

· Devices that connect to everyday tools that those with limited hearing may miss—such as a doorbell, telephone, or a blinking light that signifies an alert you might otherwise miss.

How Do ALDs Work?

ALDs are typically connected to a secondary microphone and device, that capture sound—and transmit it wirelessly to your preferred transmission method, typically:

· FM (Frequency Modulation) transmission can effectively amplify sounds of up to 300 feet away, when tuned into the proper radio signal/frequency, or channel. The source of the sound must have a microphone that connects to the transmitter, and delivers sound to the receiver. For example, a college professor could wear a small microphone that transmits their lecture to the transmitter the student is wearing or listening to.

· IR (Infra Red) transmission systems transmit sound via infrared light. These systems must be used in areas where there is little competing sound and light signals. Perfect for courtrooms or confidential meetings, as the transmission will not travel beyond the room.

· IL (Induction Loop) transmission are offered by many schools and public facilities. The strategically placed, directional microphones magnetically transmit sound to hearing aids and cochlear implants by way of advanced telecoils.

As you can see, there are many factors you must take into consideration when selecting the perfect hearing device to support your active and healthy lifestyle. For further guidance, our hearing experts are always here to assist.