Older man getting a hearing aid

How hearing aids work

Hearing aids help your hearing by amplifying soft sounds. They are digital and battery operated with a microchip inside to work out which sounds to amplify. You should get a hearing aid that is customized to pick up the types of sounds that YOU have trouble hearing.

A small microphone picks up sounds in the environment, analyses that data, and adjusts the the amplification based on your hearing loss, your listening needs and the volume of the sounds around you at the time. The modified sound waves are then delivered to your ears through tiny speakers.


Types of hearing aids

Different sizes of hearing aids compared
Four different types of hearing aids compared in size to a coin

Hearing aids vary widely in price, size, features and style.

These are the most common categories, listed from smallest to largest.


Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)
These are the smallest hearing aids and are the least visible. They are custom molded fit entirely within the ear canal. They may be suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss in adults, but are unlikely to have the power for more severe hearing loss.


In-the-canal (ITC)
Custom molded to fit mainly in the ear canal but are slightly bigger than CIC aids. The extra size allows for extra features, but these are likely to be difficult to adjust due to its small size. May be suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss in adults.


In-the-ear (ITE)
These are custom made in either full shell or half shell style. The full shell fills most of the area of your outer ear, and the half shell fills only the lower part of the outer ear. Both are helpful for mild to severe hearing loss. The larger size may make it easier to handle and the battery will last longer than the smaller sizes.


Behind the ear (BTE)

A behind the ear hearing aid goes over the top of the ear and rests behind it. A BTE hearing aid is appropriate for all ages and nearly all types of hearing loss from mild to profound. They can be more powerful than the ITE, ITC and CIC styles. Some of the new BTE styles are streamlined so they are barely visible.

Closed-fit behind the ear aids almost completely fill the outer ear and ear canal.

Open-fit behind the ear aids keep the ear canal open, which allows low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally, while high-frequency sounds get amplified by the hearing aid. This makes your own voice sound better to you.


For more information on hearing aids

Choice magazine have recently updated their guide to buying hearing aids. Check it out here.