Hearing aids are delicate, carefully-crafted devices. With proper care and regular maintenance, your hearing aid should last about 5 to 7 years. On this page, you can learn more about the 5 simple steps it takes to get your perfect hearing aid and the types of hearing aids available for Northern California residents. Check out our hearing aid troubleshooting guide if you would like a few tips on hearing aid maintenance and care. Find an audiologist near you to get professional advice about the hearing aid that’s best for your situation.
Hearing Aid Process
Step 1: Audiologic evaluation (hearing test)
The first step is to have your hearing checked. An audiologist, a professional who specializes in evaluating and treating hearing loss, will determine the type and degree of your hearing loss and its impact on your ability to communicate.
Step 2: Medical clearance
Obtaining medical clearance from your physician is in your best health interest. The physician determines that your hearing cannot be improved by medical or surgical treatment. Before you can be fitted for hearing aids, you must either obtain a written statement from your physician or sign a medical waiver. Individuals 18 years of age or younger must receive medical clearance from a physician, preferably an otolaryngologist, prior to being fit with hearing aids.
Step 3: Hearing needs assessment
In this appointment, an audiologist will discuss the various types of hearing aid styles, the latest technological advances, and what you can expect from your hearing aids. Together, you and the audiologist will decide which hearing aids are the most appropriate for you, given your individual lifestyle and listening needs. If needed, impressions will be made of your ears so that your hearing aids can be custom-fit.
Step 4: Hearing aid dispensing or hearing aid orientation
Your hearing aids will arrive about 2-3 weeks after your hearing aid evaluation. At this time, you will return for a fitting appointment. The actual physical fit will be checked. Hearing aids should never cause you physical discomfort. The hearing aids will be adjusted or programmed to your specific hearing needs. The proper care, use, and maintenance (including warranty) of the hearing aids will be explained to you. During this visit, you will have time to practice inserting and removing the hearing aid and the hearing aid battery, and adjusting any controls the hearing aid may have.
Step 5: Follow-up hearing aid appointment
A follow-up hearing aid consultation is scheduled in the first few weeks following your initial fitting. This visit is important so that your audiologist can answer any questions you may have. The hearing aids may be “fine-tuned” and additional testing may be conducted, if necessary. Remember: it takes time to adjust to your hearing aids. As you learn to listen with your hearing aids, your listening demands change. For this reason, it is important to return for these follow-up appointments to obtain the maximum benefit from your hearing aids. You may require more than one follow-up visit to get your hearing aids “fine-tuned.”
Hearing Aid Types
IIC / ITC (Invisible-in-the-canal)
This is the smallest type of hearing instrument available and is invisible in the ear – designed for people who want the ultimate in discretion. Sitting deep inside the ear canal, an IIC instrument offers the benefits of the natural acoustics of the external ear. IIC instruments are custom made and are recommended typically for people with mild to moderately severe hearing loss, and whose ear canals are wide enough for them to fit.
CIC Hearing Aid (Completely in the Canal)
CIC aids are the smallest type of hearing aid and one that is barely visible once placed in the ear. In most cases, CIC aids are recommended for people who have a mild to moderate hearing loss and an ear canal large enough to accommodate the device.
ITE Hearing Aid (In the Ear)
These hearing instruments are appropriate for mild to severe hearing loss. Due to their larger size, ITEs can accommodate features such as directionality (makes speech easier to understand in noisy situations)- multiple listening programs, and telecoils (for telephone use and assisted listening devices). These instruments are also easier to handle for many people.
RITE / RIC
RITE devices house most of the electronics in a case that fits behind the ear, and look similar to BTE devices, though they are usually significantly smaller. The difference with RITE devices is that sound is transmitted electronically from the case to a tiny speaker suspended in the ear canal – a feature that gives more flexibility and better performance than BTE devices in many cases.
While traditional hearing aids capture and process sound outside of the ear, Lyric uses the natural anatomy of the ear to amplify and give you a full, natural listening experience. Because Lyric is placed in the ear canal near the eardrum by a trained professional, it is the world’s only 100% invisible hearing aid.
BTE Hearing Aid (Behind the Ear)
There are two components in the BTE aid: a hearing aid and an earmold. The earmold is connected to the hearing aid through a tube. The earmold itself sits in the ear bowl and the hearing aid sits over the ear. The hearing aid amplifies the sound and delivers it to the ear through the earmold. BTE hearing aids are often recommended for children and people with certain middle ear conditions or severe to profound hearing loss. However, with an “open fit” BTE option, the solid earmold is usually replaced with a small ear-tip to amplify the high frequencies without plugging up the ear canal. The open fit BTE hearing aids are recommended for high-frequency hearing loss, not severe to profound hearing loss.
See our hearing aid troubleshooting guide for additional help.