Hearing aids: How to choose the right one | Mayo Clinic

Many types of hearing aids exist. So which is best for you? Find out what to consider when choosing a hearing aid.

Perhaps you’ve thought about getting a hearing aid, but you’re worried about how it will look or whether it will really help. It may help ease your concerns to know more about:

  • The hearing aid options available to you
  • What to look for when buying a hearing aid
  • How to get used to a hearing aid

Hearing aids can’t restore normal hearing. They can improve your hearing by amplifying sounds that you’ve had trouble hearing.

How hearing aids work

All hearing aids use the same basic parts to carry sounds from the environment into your ear and make them louder. Most hearing aids are digital, and all are powered with a traditional hearing aid battery or a rechargeable battery.

Small microphones collect sounds from the environment. A computer chip with an amplifier converts the incoming sound into digital code. It analyzes and adjusts the sound based on your hearing loss, listening needs and the level of the sounds around you. The amplified signals are then converted back into sound waves and delivered to your ears through speakers, sometimes called receivers.

Hearing aid styles

Hearing aids vary a great deal in price, size, special features and the way they’re placed in your ear.

The following are common hearing aid styles, beginning with the smallest, least visible in the ear. Hearing aid designers keep making smaller hearing aids to meet the demand for a hearing aid that is not very noticeable. But the smaller aids may not have the power to give you the improved hearing you may expect.

Completely in the canal (CIC) or mini CIC

A completely-in-the-canal hearing aid is molded to fit inside your ear canal. It improves mild to moderate hearing loss in adults.

A completely-in-the-canal hearing aid:

  • Is the smallest and least visible type
  • Is less likely to pick up wind noise
  • Uses very small batteries, which have shorter life and can be difficult to handle
  • Often doesn’t include extra features, such as volume control or a directional microphone
  • Is susceptible to earwax clogging the speaker

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