Posted on Friday, December 14, 2012

Hearing Aid Reviews: Understanding In-The-Ear (ITE)

In-The-Ear hearing aid, a full shell occupying the entire outer ear.

In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids are sophisticated instruments uniquely fitted to the individual. This customization means that they can vary greatly physically and in their functional features. Fully reviewing the In-The-Ear hearing aid requires looking at their basic styles, the available features and functions, and examining the pros and cons of this miniature technology.

There are three basic types of hearing aids, Behind-The-Ear (BTE), In-The-Ear (ITE), and Receiver-In-The-Ear (RITE). Of these three types, the In-The-Ear (ITE) is considered the most discreet and can come in Full or Half Shell styles. Both styles of hearing aids are custom-molded. Half Shell hearing aids sit within the lower portion of the outer ear while Full Shell, as in the photo above, fills the entire outer ear. Because of this, Full Shells are easier to handle, but more visible and more apt to pick up wind noise.
Both are capable of treating mild to moderately severe hearing loss, and offer many features such as directional microphones and volume control.

The ITE type of hearing aid also includes In-The-Canal and Completely-In-The-Canal style. The In-The-Canal usually has a slightly visible receiver, but even this is hard to spot unless you are looking closely. ITE hearing aids can treat all but those with very severe hearing loss, but are not suitable for children, as their ear canals are constantly changing shape as they grow. Below, three models of ITE hearing aids are reviewed to give you an idea of the technologies available within the ITE style.

Widex's The Mind™: Designed for mild to moderately severe hearing loss this hearing aid is recommended for adults as well as children and available as an In-The-Ear canal (nearly invisible). Features include the Zen relaxation and tone program, that helps the wearer manage tinnitus symptoms. SmartSpeak verbal messaging system that alerts the user when they need to do something like change the battery. It comes in three models 440/330/220. The lesser numbered model is the least expensive. All of these instruments provide an organic listening experience and digital technology, but the 440 has the most features.

Phonak's Lyric (Extended Wear): Designed for mild to moderately-severe hearing loss, Lyric is a Completely-In-The-Canal hearing aid or what Phonak calls Invisible-In-The-Ear, meaning it's completely invisible. This hearing aid delivers high sound quality and can be worn in the shower, while exercising, and 24 hours a day for up to four months. Users wear it for four months than throw it out. A year’s worth of Lyric is purchased in advance, so when you’re done with one pair, you simply return to your audiologist and have him insert the next one.

Oticon's Intigai: Designed for mild to moderate hearing loss, this hearing aid is an In-The-Ear canal, taking advantage of the pinna and canal to reduce wind noise. Features include a Speech Guard that keeps speech audible even in challenging environments like a restaurant. Optimized Rise2 which gets the lowest power consumption ever in high performing instrument--meaning longer battery life. Automatic Adaptation Manager which automatically and gradually increases flexibility during the fitting process, so you don't have to go back for as many tuning sessions.

Pros and Cons of ITE Hearing Aids

ITE hearing aids are placed inside the ear. They are very small, cosmetically appealing, and because they are custom made users report greater comfort. ITE hearing aids are easy to use with telephones, and those fully in the ear are less likely to pick up wind noise. Disadvantages of an ITE hearing aid is that they tend to be expensive, require good manual dexterity, have a smaller battery and because of their smaller size might not be able to accommodate as many features.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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