Choosing the hearing aid that’s best for you or your loved one can be overwhelming, especially with the variety of hearing aid choices available.This article will offer a brief introduction to open fit hearing aids – a relatively new type that is becoming more popular.
If you’re familiar with behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, you’ll find that open fit hearing aids have numerous similarities. This type of hearing aid consists of a plastic case that rests behind the ear and a small tube that connects the case to the ear canal. Both the case and the tube tend to be smaller than the ones found on behind-the-ear hearing aids.
Better ventilation to the ear is probably the largest differentiating factor of the open fit hearing aid. This allows low frequency sounds to enter the ear without additional amplification. Because many people with mild to moderate hearing loss have no trouble hearing low frequency sounds, this lack of amplification leads to a more comfortable and natural experience. Further comfort is added by the fact that listeners do not end up hearing their own speaking, coughing, chewing, or other distracting noises.
Open fit hearing aids are smaller than many other devices, which for many is another advantage. They are a favorite among hearing aid wearers that want to conceal or disguise their device.
Individuals with severe hearing loss are not good candidates for the open fit hearing aids. At high levels of amplification (required for individuals with severe hearing losses) the open fit devices often suffer from feedback noise. The hearing aid’s small size can also work against it, as people who do not have fine motor skills often find it difficult to operate such a small device. Additionally, this small hearing aid type requires very small batteries that will need to be changed or charged regularly.
Open fit hearing aids may have their flaws, but they are still a great choice for many users. Consult with your hearing professional to determine if the open fit type of hearing aid may be the best for your unique hearing needs and lifestyle.