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CIC – Completely in Canal – ‘Practically Invisible’

These are usually custom-made, self-contained units that are fitted completely in the ear canal. They are suitable if you have a mild to moderate hearing loss and your ear canal is a certain size and shape. They are very tiny and use small batteries, so you must have good dexterity and eyesight to operate.

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ITC – In the Canal – ‘Inconspicuous’

These are usually custom-made, self-contained units that are fitted in the ear canal. They are suitable if you have a mild to moderate hearing loss and your ear canal is a certain size and shape. They are slightly larger than the CIC, with a bigger battery, making it easier to use and allowing additional features such as telecoil or directional microphones.

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BTE – Behind the Ear – ‘Powerful and Robust’

These units sit snugly behind the ear, amplifying sounds to an ear-mould worn in the ear. They are suitable for mild to severe hearing loss and are more powerful as they have more room for a stronger amplifier and potent battery. They are available in a comprehensive range of sizes, colours and power levels and can accommodate many features. They are also very robust, as they do not come into contact with the moisture and earwax in the ear, and are easy to handle.

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On the Ear, Open Micro BTEs – ‘Inconspicuous yet Feature packed’

These units are smaller than a tiny paper clip and sit inconspicuously on top of the ear. They transmit sound to the ear canal via a thin, virtually invisible tube. They are suitable for mild to moderate hearing losses and are especially useful for people with intact low frequency hearing. They are available in a range of fashionable metallic colours and shapes. They have the benefit of being cosmetically appealing with all the features of a BTE.

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Hearing aids have become very sophisticated over the last few years. It is insufficient to say that a hearing aid is simply ‘digital’. There are many features which make up the sophistication of the hearing aid and some of these are explained below. At SNR Hearing we will discuss your individual requirements to decide which hearing aid features are most suitable for you.

WIRELESS CAPABILITY: Some hearing aids come with the capability of Bluetooth pairing to any device with Bluetooth. This can make the sound from a Mobile phone, Televisions, Personal Computers etc clear and interference free. This feature also allows a pair of hearing aids to share information and work together to improve sound quality.

CHANNELS: This can be likened to the resolution of the hearing aid. Each channel processes a range of sound frequencies individually. Therefore, a single channel hearing aid will process all hearing frequencies in the hearing aid in the same way. The more the channels, the more specifically a hearing aid can be programmed across the frequency range. Currently hearing aids range from having 1 to 20 channels.

PROGRAMMES: Various listening situations that we encounter require a different amplification strategy. For example, although you may need a flat frequency response when at a concert, you would need the hearing aid to focus on speech frequencies when listening to friends talking at a party. Each programme on the hearing aid allows you to change the response of the hearing aid based on the listening situation you are in.

DIRECTIONAL MICROPHONES: These allow you to ‘zoom in’ on a speaker directly in front of you. This in turn reduces the sound of noise from behind you. This is a useful feature for example when listening to someone talking in a crowded, noisy area. The hearing aid would give you a good all round response when in the ‘omni-directional’ mode.

AUTOMATIC DIRECTIONALITY: These hearing aids will constantly analyse the environment to automatically select the best sound processing strategy to use. For example, where they detect that the hearing aid wearer is speaking to someone in front of them and there is a lot of other conversation happening around, they would switch automatically to the directional microphone mode.

FEEDBACK MANAGEMENT: This feature helps to eliminate the whistling sound that was very common in the old analogue hearing aids. In digital hearing aids, whistling can occur e.g. if the hearing aid is loose or if something is put close to the ear. The feedback manager actively works to cancel out this feedback.

BACKGROUND NOISE MANAGEMENT: Logic is built into the hearing aid to cancel out noise that may be interfering with the understanding of speech. For example, the hearing aid may reduce the sound of a drill nearby leaving the listener to concentrate on more important speech sounds.

TELECOIL/HEARING LOOP: This is a feature that is more useful for severe hearing losses. The inclusion of a telecoil in the hearing aid allows the wearer to hear more clearly wherever the loop sign is e.g. cinemas, post offices, banks etc.

DATALOGGING: Some hearing aids are able to store information on how the hearing aid has been used. This helps the hearing aid audiologist to fine tune the hearing aid optimally and get better results quicker. For example, if the hearing aid has recorded that the volume had to constantly be turned up, the audiologist may be able to improve the overall amplification of the aid.

ADAPTATION/EXPERIENCE LEVEL MANAGER: All users need some time to get used to their hearing aids. Quite often, patients find it useful to be eased into amplification. Therefore, experience levels can be set so that the user gradually achieves the full amplification and sound processing over a period of time.

FREQUENCY COMPRESSION: Enjoy a fuller spectrum of audible sounds. This feature makes high pitched sounds, which are normally difficult to hear even with amplification, more audible

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