A new kind of hearing aid is an open-fit hearing aid. Small, open-fit hearing aids fit behind the ear completely. A narrow tube is inserted into the ear canal, enabling the canal to remain open. There are two distinct types of open-ear hearing aids: either the location of the receiver or speaker is in the ear, or the receiver location is in the hearing aid.
How Does an Open Fit Hearing Aid Work?
A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.
In the case of an open-fit hearing aid, the amplified sound travels through a small tube or small wire to a tiny dome or receiver in the ear canal. The dome or receiver does not completely seal the ear canal. The open space allows the sound to enter the ear canal naturally, while still amplifying the sounds you have difficulty hearing.
Who Can Benefit From an Open-Fit Hearing Aid?
Initially, the open ear fitting was successful for individuals with mild high-frequency hearing loss. Improvements in digital feedback suppression technology now afford individuals with a greater degree of hearing loss the opportunity to benefit from open-fit hearing aids. Open fit hearing aids may also be a good choice for people who experience a buildup of earwax. An open-fit hearing aid is less likely to be damaged by earwax. Also, some people may prefer the open-fit hearing aid because their perception of their voice does not sound “plugged up.”
The Advantages of Open-Fit Hearing Aids
-It is less visible than a traditional BTE hearing aid.
-The open-fit does not close off the ear canal making it comfortable when worn for long periods.
-It eliminates the sensation of the wearer’s voice sounding like they are speaking into a barrel.
-No longer is feedback an issue when using the telephone.
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Source NIH: NIDCD
Pub. No. 13-4340