If you’ve never worn hearing aids you may be surprised at the number of different hearing aid types and styles available. There are a huge number of choices! If your hearing test results suggest that hearing aids will improve your quality of life, there’s no need to worry about how to make the best decision. A little research and a consultation with your audiologist is all you need to determine what’s right for you.

The big picture

Basically there are two types of hearing aids – the kind worn in your ear and the kind that rest behind your ear. The choices grow as you break down the styles available in each category.

 In the ear hearing aids are offered in a range of sizes from nearly invisible to filling the center of your outer ear. Completely-in-canal hearing aids are undetectable. They sit deep in the ear canal and require special tools for insertion and removal. In-the-canal hearing aids sit in the small bowl-like portion of the outer ear and offer a comfortable fit. In-the-ear devices are a little larger and also sit in your outer ear.

Behind-the-ear hearing aids sit, as the name implies, behind the ear. Some units have a small wire connected to a microphone that goes in the ear canal. Others have an open fit.

Choosing the right style

So many things go into choosing a hearing aid. Your audiologist will ask about your lifestyle – are you active outdoors? Do you enjoy music? A quiet night at home? The shape of your ear also plays a role. Some people cannot wear the small invisible in the ear canal hearing aids while others may find behind-the-ear devices don’t fit properly. If you’re prone to earwax, some of the smaller units may be difficult to keep clean. Do you have arthritis? If so, you may prefer a hearing aid with a larger battery compartment that is easier to open, close and replace batteries.

Special features

Hearing aids now offer many features designed to improve how you hear based on your exam results. Your audiologist may suggest directional microphones to create a more natural sound, digital noise reduction or automatic volume control options. If you work outside, you may benefit from special coatings to repel moisture and dust. If your job requires you to be on the phone for long periods of time, Bluetooth is available for a wireless connection. Many hearing aids are self-learning and make adjustments as you wear them. Others have data logging capability, allowing your audiologist to download logs and make any necessary adjustments.

It may seem a little overwhelming to consider the different hearing aid types. Start with the basics to determine if in the ear or behind the ear is right for you. The choices get easier as you move ahead. With hearing aids that are custom made for your lifestyle, you’ll want to take on the day, every day!