ALDA welcomes the opportunity to support you in this journey
Reach out or join ALDA, Inc.  today.
ALDA is the only hearing loss organization comprised entirely of volunteers working to make a difference for those dealing with hearing loss or those who have gone deaf (Deaf/deaf).  We look forward to hearing from you and are proud of your efforts to seek help to better communication and hearing.


Hearing aids are have changed significantly over the years and are providing assistance to a significant number of individuals hear at home, work and in the general public. Today’s hearing aids offer everything from wireless audio streaming to fall detection and heart rate monitoring.  There is no one best hearing aid for every individual.  Two individuals may have the exact same audiogram, or hearing loss, and yet may find that each has an alternate hearing aid that works best for them.

If you’re not sure whether hearing aids are for you or someone you know, meet with an Audiologist to learn more and first determine the cause of the hearing loss.  It may be something as simple as wax build up in the ear.  For most, however, it is something more.  Regardless, an audiologist has a doctorate degree meaning they can assess what other factors might be contributing to your hearing loss.

What are hearing aids?

Hearing aids are electronic devices worn on or in the ear, to help make sounds audible for those affected by hearing loss.  Today’s digital hearing aids have many incredible features that can greatly reduce unwanted background noise and provide the ability to hear people speak in loud settings.  They can also provide streaming for phone calls and to the television and many are easily managed to turn the volume up or down or change the program on hearing aids via a cell phone app.

B. How do hearing aids work?

Hearing aids collect sound using a microphone, amplify and process the collected sound using advanced digital signal processing technologies, and then provide amplified / processed sound to the hearing aid wearer through a tiny speaker.  The basic parts include the sound processor, a t-coil for hearing in public settings that are looped.  The loop device provides anyone with a t-coil in their hearing aid to understand the speaker in public (and private!) venues and religious congregations from anywhere in the room.  The conversation is directly streamed to the hearing aid as if the person were sitting right next to you to converse.  And last, but not least, power by way of either disposable or rechargeable batteries.

C. Hearing aid types

Today’s hearing aids are in a variety of options:  Behind-the-ear, (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids, in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-canal (CIC), and invisible-in-canal (IIC).

  1. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids With BTE, all the electronic components are in the body of the hearing aid, which is worn behind the ear. Sound from the speaker is sent down to the ear canal via a hollow tube, which protects the speaker from moisture and earwax within the ear canal. Most BTE hearing aids can be fit with a tube and either a custom earmold or smaller and lighter standard “dome,” that fits in the ear canal. For more severe hearing losses, or when the lower pitches are affected, a custom earmold is often used to help to seal the ear canal to prevent feedback. Sealing the ear canal enables the hearing aid to deliver louder sound but can sometimes lead to reduced comfort.  For those with mild hearing loss, this issue would not apply and a lighter tube is used to prevent unwanted feedback. A BTE hearing aid is a good option if your hearing loss is changing rapidly, as you can be fit with a thin tube and canal dome today. You can always update to a custom mold later if necessary, without needing to purchase a new device.  The BTE is:
    • Less susceptible to damage from moisture and earwax
    • Works well for mild-to-profound hearing losses
    • Can be fit with non-custom domes or custom earmolds
    • Good flexibility to simple changes if hearing loss will change over time
  2. Receiver-in-canal (RIC) RIC is similar to the BTE hearing aids. The hearing aid is worn on the ear, and most of the electronic components are in the body of the hearing aid. The major difference is the speaker resides in the ear canal, not in the body of the hearing aid, and is connected to the body of the hearing aid by a thin wire. The RIC is:
    • Smaller than BTE hearing aids
    • Possible reduced feedback with less blockage of the ear canal
    • More open airflow to deliver more natural sounds.
    • Can be less effective for moderate-to-severe hearing loss
    • Sometimes more expensive
    • Moisture in the ear canal can damage the receiver and necessitate repairs
  3. In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids ITE hearing aids are custom hearing aids which fit entirely in your outer ear with a solid plastic case that holds the electronics. They can work for mild to possibly profound hearing loss, although it is highly recommended to obtain the BTE or RIC for profound hearing loss.
  4. In the canal (ITC) hearing aids An ITC hearing aid fits into the ear canal opening and is barely noticeable but processing the same quality if sound is not as easy with the smaller device and, because of its small size, feedback can be a problem.
  5. Completely in the canal (CIC) hearing aids CIC hearing aids sit deep within the canal and are almost invisible. Because of their small size, they often lack features in larger models, such as directional microphones and wireless streaming, and some find it difficult to change the small batteries and take in and out of the ear on a daily basis.
  6. Invisible in the canal (IIC) hearing aids IIC’s sit close to the ear drum. A thin plastic filament extends from the body of the hearing aid to retrieve it from the ear canal. Most often prescribed for mild-to-moderate hearing loss, their appeal is mainly cosmetic but will not provide a good quality of hearing sound.

D. Hearing aid features

Today’s hearing aids are changing more than ever before, thanks to advanced technology now available.  Advances in sound processing and directional microphones have made it far easier for hearing-aid users to understand speech in noisy environments such as restaurants. And ongoing miniaturization has ushered in a new era of smaller hearing aids for the many consumers who still worry about stigma associated with using hearing assistance.

In the past several years, manufacturers have also integrated connectivity features that make hearing aids as functional as the wildly popular high-fi earbuds and headsets used to stream music or phone calls.  New apps provide the option of a smartphone to control the volume program choices and other settings also make it easier than ever to use your hearing aids successfully.

Rechargeable batteries are available and manufacturers are also offering optional tinnitus relief features by generating automated smooth sounds for relief from ringing, humming, buzzing and other unwanted noises in the head from tinnitus.

Major hearing aid companies are also developing sensor technologies that will pick up health data from the linings of the ear canal to provide accurate health and fitness information!  “Hearables” and hearing aids with integrated sensors will likely be very common in the next several years.

E. Bluetooth hearing aids and wireless connectivity

Hearing aids will continue to improve with ways to connect easily and seamlessly with the outside world through a variety of wireless options including the “Made-for-iPhone” hearing aids that enable wireless streaming of audio and phone calls from the iPhone and/or the “Made-for-Android” hearing aids that provide the same capabilities with Android phones.

They also offer proprietary wireless accessories, including devices that stream audio from the TV and from MP3 players, and clip-on or table-top microphones that provide transmission of clear audio to hearing aids. They often require an intermediary streamer to transmit audio signals to the hearing aids, but provide high-quality sound, which can be a big help to people with severe hearing loss.

F. Hearing aid prices

Over the past few years, more and more high-performance hearing aid models have become available at a lower cost.  The most important thing to remember is you are paying for something designed to work for you for years to come and to be programmable to adapt to your hearing loss changes over time.  Whatever programming is set when you first purchase your hearing aids may not work as well in time as your hearing continues to change.  Fortunately, your investment in hearing aids can work long term and be reprogrammed as needed to adapt as needed. Some insurance companies now offer assistance with hearing aids, for those seeking a job or the requirement to maintain an existing job, Vocational Rehab may be of assistance, if you have questions about this, feel free to contact ALDA, Inc. to speak to our members or Regional Director about options in your area.

G. Hearing aid reviews

Unlike reviews for other consumer electronic products, individual factors such as degree of hearing loss and the individual’s speech-recognition ability can have a profound effect on the success and overall satisfaction with hearing aids. It is important to find out as much as you can about the hearing-loss levels of consumers who write hearing-aid reviews and obtain information from your audiologist.  If your audiologists is locked into one type of hearing aid only, you may wish to consider a second opinion from one who works with multiple manufacturers.

Hearing aids vary in the level of quality; some hearing aids are extremely durable, while others suffer frequent breakage. Battery life for various models will vary as well and the expected battery life maybe higher than the actual performance.  It is wise to pay attention to the following:

  • Manufacturing quality, durability, and water resistance
  • Battery life and battery size- and the ease of changing out the battery
  • T-coil and other wireless connectivity options and consistency of connections
  • Accessory availability and manual controls

As technology continues to change, so will whatever is considered the best hearing aid for you or someone you know.  Either way, you are taking the steps to help yourself or family member or friend with the first steps to better hearing.

ALDA welcomes the opportunity to support you in this journey

Reach out or join ALDA, Inc.  today. 

ALDA is the only hearing loss organization comprised entirely of volunteers working to make a difference for those dealing with hearing loss or those who have gone deaf (Deaf/deaf).  We look forward to hearing from you and are proud of your efforts to seek help to better communication and hearing.