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Are All Hearing Aids the Same?

ODHHS Information and Technical Assistance Series

Are All Hearing Aids the Same?
(Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA)
All hearing aids work similarly and have similar parts. These include:
  • a microphone to pick up sound
  • an amplifier to make the sound louder
  • a miniature loudspeaker (receiver) to deliver the louder sound into the ear
  • batteries to power the electronic parts.
Some hearing aids also have earmolds (earpieces) to control the flow of sound into the ear, enhance sound quality, and help hold the hearing aid in place.
But, hearing aids also differ in design, the amount of power, ease of handling the volume control and availability of special features. Your audiologist will advise you on which of the five basic hearing aid styles meets your needs best.
What are the basic styles of hearing aids?
  • CANAL AIDS: these aids are contained in a tiny case that fits into the ear canal. They are the smallest aids available.
  • ALL-IN-THE-EAR AIDS: all parts of the aid are contained in the outer part of the ear. These aids are larger than canal aids.
  • BEHIND-THE EAR AIDS: all parts are contained in a small plastic case that sits behind the ear; the case is connected to an earmold by a piece of clear tubing.
  • EYEGLASS AIDS: these aids are a different kind of behind-the-ear aid with the parts contained inside the frames of the glasses; again, clear plastic tubing connects the hearing aid to the earmold.
  • BODY AIDS: the microphone, amplifier, and batteries are combined into a rectangular case that can fit into a shirt pocket; a cord connecting the case to the receiver runs along the neck; the receiver then snaps into an earmold.
Today more than three-quarters of hearing aids sold are canal or all-in-the ear models. Only a very small percentage of eyeglass and body aids are dispensed.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional and scientific society that represents 81,427 audiologists; speech-language pathologists; and speech, language and hearing scientists. ASHA's mission is to promote the interest of its members, to provide them with the highest quality services, and to advocate for people with communication disabilities. ASHA's Consumer Affairs Division provides an information and referral service on a broad range of speech, language and hearing disabilities for both children and adults.
For additional information on this topic or other speech, language, or hearing disabilities, contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 10801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852, 1-800-638-8255 or (301) 897-8682 (Voice or TTY).
Copyright 1994-1998, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
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