In most situations, the treatment for permanent, sensorineural hearing loss is a digital hearing device. Hearing devices can range from extremely tiny devices that fit completely inside the ear canal, to devices that are placed externally behind the ear and deliver sound into the ear canal via tubing and an earmold or a receiver.
Hearing technology has changed tremendously in recent years. With updated technology, hearing devices are now more cosmetically appealing and less noticeable, provide a higher quality of sound (using digital processing rather than analog), are more automated and user-friendly, and are more comfortable with more options and customization.
Your audiologist will help you choose the hearing device that is correct for you based on your level of hearing loss and your lifestyle.
The hearing device style that will best address your hearing loss will depend upon the type and severity of hearing loss you experience. Hearing device styles get their names from where they sit on your ear; RITE, CIC, ITC, ITE, and BTE. Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) is the most popular due to its inconspicuous nature and excellent sound quality. Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing instruments are custom-made to fit deep within the canal and are nearly invisible. In-the-canal (ITC) hearing devices are slightly larger than the CIC, also custom-made and fill the bottom half of the external ear and are only barely noticeable in face-to-face conversation. In-the-ear (ITE) hearing instruments are custom-made to fit in the bowl of the outer ear (usually visible when facing another person) and because of their size can accommodate larger sound amplifiers, offer more features, and are easier to handle. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing devices are generally more powerful than smaller hearing devices due to stronger amplifier and larger battery but are also offered in a miniature size.
The level of technology you’ll need in a hearing device for optimum results will depend upon your lifestyle. For a dynamic lifestyle with frequent background noise due to activities outdoors, at entertainment venues, and social gatherings, premium technology provides flexibility and performance in a broad range of demanding listening environments. An active lifestyle with moderate background noise needs advanced technology, which suits those who enjoy many activities, but in less crowded and noisy environments. A quiet lifestyle with only occasional background noise can be treated with basic technology, which is ideal for those who prefer to relax at home, with occasional social outings to provide background noise. A private lifestyle with minimal background noise can be accommodated by economy technology, which provides appropriate performance for communication in mostly quiet settings.
Adapting to any type of hearing device will take time and adjustment, but with dedication and patience for the process, is well worth the result for your hearing health.