Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Behind-the-ear hearing aids were the first hearing amplifiers to enter the market. When they were first introduced, their use was extensive among those with impaired hearing.

As technology developed, so did hearing aids. Now, you get in- the- ear and canal models that have given behind-the-ear devices substantial competition. But this kind of hearing support is still used by people who are seeking an affordable yet effective way to deal with their hearing loss issues.

These small, hidden gadgets have found favor among both adults as well as children. A typical behind-the-ear model is comprised of a plastic case that is fixed behind the ear and connected to a mold inside the ear canal through a plastic tube. The plastic case contains some electronic parts including a minuscule microphone to capture and amplify sounds and convey them to the ear mold.

When you experience a hearing loss, don’t put off visiting an audiologist. After determining the extent of the hearing deficiency, the audiologist will arrange to have you fitted with a hearing aid.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using these semi-hidden hearing devices.

Advantages

- These devices are suitable for young children with hearing defects. This is because behind-the-ear models are fairly safe and don’t hamper their growth.

- They are also the most powerful hearing amplifiers available today. They can amplify sound waves much better than other models. The size of the plastic casing provides room for bigger batteries. This makes it easier to change and replace batteries.

- This kind of hearing amplifier can be used no matter what the extent of hearing loss. Their use is recommended for people suffering from moderate to severe hearing deficiency. However, even those with mild hearing impairments can use these models with no difficulties.

- They are also cheaper as compared to more sophisticated devices. In-the-ear and canal hearing aids are quite costly.

- They are less susceptible to ear wax build up since the electronic components are stored in the plastic case behind the ear.

- If you’re concerned about visibility, they can be matched to your skin color to be almost indiscernible.

Disadvantages

- These models are big and a little uncomfortable to get used to. In-the-ear and canal models are soft and designed for comfort.

- Behind-the-ear models are visible no matter what color they are and not visually appealing. This prevents their usage since people view them as an announcement to the world of their hearing impairment.

Even though behind-the-ear hearing aids are declining in popularity, they were used by technicians to study and construct more superior and cutting edge designs for people with hearing loss. However, these models are still preferred by people who are looking for an inexpensive way to improve their hearing and are not embarrassed to admit that they’re hard of hearing.

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Open Ear Hearing Aids

Hearing aids have come a long way. One of the more recent forms of hearing devices are the hearing aids also known as open fit hearing aids. These small devices are either placed above or behind the ear. It is on this basis that they are referred to as open because unlike other hearing devices they do not block access to the ear. There are two main types of open fit hearing devices: there is the acoustic thin-tube open fit model and the speaker-in-the-ear model (SIE). In the acoustic thin-tube model, all the electrical components necessary for detecting sound are contained in a plastic container which is kept behind the ear. In this model, sound is first processed in this plastic container then transmitted into the ear through a transparent acoustic thin wire.

In the SIE model, the speaker is located at the tip of the acoustic thin wire. Therefore, sound does not have to travel through the wire to get to the ear. Because of the speaker’s location, the quality of the sound is much better and this is why the SIE model is preferred for persons suffering from high frequency hearing loss and other more niche forms of hearing difficulty. One of the key advantages of open ear hearing device is their reduced occlusion effect. This effect common in non-open aids is characterized by ‘tunnel-like’ sound transmission due to the obstruction of the ear by the device. The open hearing aid is located outside the ear and this means the user receives the sound signals in a more natural sounding form.

Persons with hearing difficulty are sometimes not comfortable with the attention their condition attracts. Open hearing devices are small and are not easily noticed once they are placed behind the ear giving the user confidentiality if they so require it. The fact that they are small and light makes them comfortable to wear. A flexible directional microphone that forms part of the entire set means that you can point it directly towards the direction the sound is coming from. To top it all and despite all these advantages, the open hearing device is inexpensive.

But there are some downsides too that one must consider when using an open ear hearing aid. For starters, they use smaller sized batteries that have a short life and require constant replacement. Another drawback is that the directional microphone does not give the user control over the volume so they cannot turn it up or down relative to the proximity and volume of the sound source.

With many hearing devices being sold in the market, it is important that you consult a hearing specialist before purchasing one. Once the hearing specialist confirms that you do need a hearing aid, some can even go as far as ordering the hearing device on your behalf directly from the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can ask him or her to offer you a list of reputable hearing aid retailers. Get a feel of an actual open hearing aid before you buy.

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