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Digital Hearing Aids Stockport, Manchester, Cheshire and Derbyshire

There are many different types of hearing aids available. At Cheshire Hearing Centres we focus on those that are suitable for our audiologists to fit in the clinic or home environment. After thoroughly assessing your needs we will only recommend solutions that are clinically appropriate for your hearing needs, your dexterity and your lifestyle requirements.

Our range of instruments fall into four classifications:- In the Ear, Receiver in Canal, Behind the Ear and Bone Conduction.

In the Ear (ITE)

In the ear instruments (ITE), are usually custom made from an impression of the clients ears, though there are some manufacturers who produce a standard model for mild to moderate losses.

Invisible in Canal (IIC)

These are the pinnacle of hearing aid miniaturisation. Depending on the size and the shape of the clients ear, these instruments will be completely invisible from outside the ear - the ultimate in discretion. Typically only available in higher technology levels - they need to be fully automatic due to the absence of any controls.

IIC instruments are too small to accommodate directional microphones. However sitting so deep within the ear canal they benefit from the natural resonance and localisation characteristics offered by the pinna (outer ear).

The deep position within the ear canal can have a downside, these styles are known to be susceptible to the effects of ear wax and moisture if not cared for correctly. They use a size 10 battery, which should give 4-5 days battery life.

Completely in Canal (CIC)

Until recently the CIC instruments were accepted as the smallest on the market. They are still incredibly discrete and available at most technology levels. As component size has reduced, manufacturers have been able to fit more circuitry inside their CIC systems to the extent that most offer these aids with a wireless option. This means they can be used with a streaming device or a remote control which will give access to programme and volume adjustments. The CIC use a size 10 battery, which should give 4-5 days battery life if not using wireless functions.

In the Canal (ITC)

ITC are the most common form of custom made hearing instruments. They sit in the lower portion of the concha (bowl of the outer ear), making them comfortable and easy to use. Their size allows them to be fitted to clients with a hearing loss down to the severe level and they deliver an excellent balance of discretion, control, performance and durability.

Often fitted with an onboard programme switch, they will typically be able to house directional microphones that really open up the benefits of hearing in noise. More often than not, they will use a size 312 battery giving 7-10 days use. Depending on ear size and shape, a size 10 battery option may be offered.

All manufacturers offer a wireless ITC for use with remote controls, streamers or ear to ear functions, though these will have an effect on battery life.

In the Ear (ITE)

Where a hearing instrument is termed an ITE it will probably be a full shell or full concha model. These aids will use the whole of the ear cavity and are suitable for clients with poor dexterity. Commonly, they will use a size 13 battery giving 10-20 days of use depending on power and wireless requirements.
A 312 battery option may be offered, depending on the size and shape of the ear. They will have wireless and directional models available and due to the space available on the face of the aid can have a programme button and an onboard rotary volume control.

Receiver in Canal (RIC)

Receiver in the canal (RIC) or some manufacturers call them receiver in the ear (RITE) are the most popular type of hearing instrument fitter in the UK. They are light, comfortable and extremely versatile as they are suitable for losses from mild to profound. The microphone and processor sit in a tiny case behind the ear. They all benefit from directional microphone and are available in a variety of sizes, the smallest Micro RIC using a size 10 battery and almost invisible when worn.

The Mini RIC will use a 312 battery and thanks to its slight increase in size will have a switch onboard that can function as a volume or programme control. One manufacturer in particular offers a rechargeable option in association with their eCharger for those who may not be comfortable with battery changes or may struggle with turning the system off at night.

There are some RIC models that use size 13 battery, these instruments will be a little larger than the Mini versions. They are designed to cope with complexed applications such as the power requirements for severe to profound losses or two way streaming of sound and data as with the Halo2 and its iPhone compatibility.

What really gives this range of hearing aids its versatility is its ability to be customised to each user. RICs use a near invisible wire that runs down the side of the ear, this terminates with the receiver (speaker) itself. These receiver units can be available with five different wire lengths and up to five different power levels of receiver. The receiver rests within the outer third of ear canal and the fitting is completed with either a silicone dome which is extremely comfortable or a custom made ear tip.

Behind the Ear (BTE)

Behind the ear hearing aids (BTE) are positioned behind or on top of the outer ear and are suitable for any type of hearing loss, from mild to profound. BTEs are usually less susceptible to the effects of dirt, dust, moisture and wax, and as such most instruments will now come with an IP (ingress protection) rating which demonstrates their resistance to these factors. There are even BTE instruments which are completely waterproof.

BTE instruments will need a sound delivery system which can either be conventional tubing and custom made earmould or a slim tube and a choice of standard silicone domes. Where a system uses a conventional earmould we recommend the tube be replaced every six months and the moulds themselves replaced every two years.

Slim tube BTEs are designed to offer a natural, open feeling within the ear canal. Originally developed as a specialist fitting for high frequency hearing losses often associated with noise induced hearing loss they are termed "Open Fit" hearing systems due to the domes fitted to the tubes. They allow the maximum passage of natural sounds that the hearing aid does not amplify into the ear, whilst allowing any pressure that builds up in the ear canal, out.

Bone conduction

Far less common than the hearing aids types discussed so far are bone conduction hearing aids, mainly due to the specific type of hearing loss they are designed to address. They work on the principle of conducting sounds through the bones of the skull where the cochlea (inner ear) will pick them up and process them. These instruments are typically fitted where there is a conductive or mixed hearing loss where the inner ear may be performing normally or only exhibit a mild to moderate loss.

Bone conduction instruments are available in three types of formats:-

Bone Anchored

These are fitted through the hospital system and involve an abutment or spigot being implanted behind the ear by an ENT surgeon. After a few weeks of healing an external processor is then attached to the abutment, this will transmit sound via vibration. The processor is removable by the user for sleeping, swimming or showering. While we do not supply this type of system we will discuss it as an option where appropriate and refer you to an ENT surgeon.

Bone Conduction Head Band

This product is rarely supplied these days but still effective. The bone conduction head band uses a conventional BTE type processor linked by wire to a bone conduction receiver. This receiver is similar to that used for testing bone conduction response during a hearing test. The two sides of the system are joined by a spring metal headband to provide tension to the bone.

Bone Conduction Glasses

Bone conduction glasses used to be a fairly bulky and heavy system with little thought given to what the frame would look like. This has now changed with the option of smart trendy frames that support vibration pads that press against the bone behind the ear to conduct the sound. The spectacle arms will also house the battery and processor.

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