Are you currently suffering from hearing loss and considering purchasing a set of hearing aids?
It can be difficult to know where to start looking in order to find the best suited for you. There are currently five main different types of hearing aids, yet, there are also different manufacturers and models to consider as well. One of the main concerns people have before purchasing hearing aids is the price, this can vary depending on the make and model but hearing aids are known for their high prices.
In this blog, we will be going into more depth on the different types of hearing aids you can find, in addition to the production of hearing aids to better understand their pricing. The average price range will then be explained so you can have a clear understanding of what hearing aid might be best suited for you within your budget.
Different types of hearing aids
Hearing aids are split into five different types: BTE (behind The Ear), RIC (receiver in canal), ITE (in the ear), ITC (in the canal) and IIC (Invisible in the Canal). In this section of the blog, we will be exploring these types further and explaining how they differ. If you’re interested in the history of hearing aids then you can click the link to read our blog containing more information.
BTE – Behind the ear
BTE hearing aids are well known for their style as they are hooked behind the ear making them visible to those around you. Past models were quite large however, newer models have become smaller and more streamlined making them much less visible. A tube is connected from the hearing aid to a custom ear mould fitted to your ear canal. Due to the size of the battery in this hearing aid, it allows for those with mild to moderate hearing loss to hear clearly. A downside to this is that it can potentially pick up more wind sounds too, which can be fairly irritating and distracting.
RIC – Receiver in the canal
RIC hearing aids have many similarities with BTE hearing aids. The hearing aid is again hooked around the back of the ear, yet rather than a tube connecting to the ear canal, a small wire is used instead for less visibility. These hearing aids may come with manual control options in addition to having a rechargeable battery. They are also well suited to those with mild to moderate hearing loss. One implication that could come with this hearing aid is that it may be susceptible to being muffled or clogged from ear wax. By ensuring you clean your hearing aid properly, this should, however, not be an issue. If you would like to learn more about how to clean your hearing aids at home click the link.
ITE – In the ear
ITE hearing aids are in a higher price range as they are made from a custom mould, there are also two different styles for this hearing aid. One style is made using most of the rounded area of your outer ear (full shell). The other uses the lower part of this area (half shell). Both are designed in this way to provide better discreteness. However, because a full shell is slightly larger it does allow for better amplification and hearing and some are available with rechargeable batteries. Microphones are typically directional in this style and do allow for better hearing, making these good hearing aids for mild to severe hearing loss. The only issues you may run into with these hearing aids are potential wax blocking the speaker, or the picking up of wind noises. Much like the RIC, as long as you ensure your hearing aids are cleaned consistently the wax blockage should not be a problem.
ITC – In the canal
ITC hearing aids are another custom-made model, fitted to part of your ear canal. This makes it less visible to those around you. Although the hearing aid is a smaller size it can still help those with mild to moderate hearing loss. An issue you could face with this hearing aid is it may be difficult to adjust since it’s a smaller size. In addition to being more prone to getting blocked with wax, therefore, it is important to ensure that you get it well fitted to the size of your ear along with keeping it clean.
IIC – Invisible in the Canal
IIC hearing aids are the smallest custom made models available. The typically can only be seen by looking directly down the ear canal and can be very effective for mild to moderate hearing loss. Because of their size they don’t benefit from rechargeable batteries or bluetooth radios. However because the microphone is placed deep in the ear canal the wearer gets the natural sound collection and focussing boost that the external ears provide, making speech in background noise easier to hear. They can be prone to wax blockage but regular changing of the wax filters keep the hearing aids working well.
How hearing aids are manufactured and produced
Hearing aids take time to manufacture as they go through a completely customised process, this requires experienced technicians to operate technical equipment and microscopes. As some tools are also hand-held it takes a lot of precision and concentration to make sure everything is built correctly.
The first step to manufacturing a hearing aid is to determine the audio range the hearing aid is going to produce. When looking for hearing aids a hearing test will first be conducted to determine the level of hearing loss you are suffering from. This data can then be entered into a computer to specifically decide which levels of amplification are best for the user.
Some hearing aids require impressions and moulds to be made. After these moulds are taken a clear sheet of vinyl is melted into these moulds. Once the vinyl is cooled and removed it is then dipped in hot wax to give it a smooth thin coating, ready for the next step.
A technician will take the vinyl mould and then immerse it into a hot liquid colloid. Once cool the impression then turns into a silicone mould. The outer casing of the hearing is then made from this mould, this is done by heating the mould and blowing air through to get rid of any imperfections.
A technician will then mix acrylic, monomer and polymer together as this will build a strong and well-structured shell for the hearing aid. The desired colour of the hearing aid is then added to this mix for either a pink, tan or brown colour.
Small electrical components are then built for the battery, amplification and any further features on the hearing aid. Circuits are also built for the electrical functions of these features to then work together, this is then all assembled into the shell.
Finally, the hearing aid will be tested to ensure it is functioning correctly without any issues. Due to this long and unique process, it can take some time for hearing aids to be made, especially considering their electrical complexity and small size together.
The average price range for each hearing aid
As previously mentioned there are five main types of hearing aid, below are the average prices for these types of hearing aids against the different manufacturers. Although these prices might look very high, many audiologists offer payment plans to help you finance your purchase. Therefore, it is not something to be overly concerned about as you will most likely be making monthly installments rather than an upfront payment. You are generally not charged more or less for the different styles of hearing aid, it is the level of technology and performance that varies the price. Additional options such as rechargeable models and more advanced ‘clean and dry’ chargers can also increase the price.
Select – A very basic hearing aid but available in most of the style types
Available from £745 per hearing aid
Advanced – A more capable hearing aid but not suitable for complex noisy environments
Available from £1195 per hearing aid
Premium – Significantly more effective hearing aid with many of the best noise management features
Available from £1495 per hearing aid
Ultimate – Top tier performance with all of the latest signal processing and noise management features to offer the best performance in social settings
Available from £1695 per hearing aid
Payment plans explained
Different audiologists will have their own finance and payment plans in place to help you with the purchase of your hearing aids. Here at Hearing Therapy Ltd we also offer our own payment plans. If you would like to find out more click the link to our finance page.
We are also offering a new way of getting better access to hearing healthcare, with our Next Step Hearing offer. This will allow you to pay for premium hearing aids, fitting and aftercare at a reasonable price. Click the link to find out more information.
Book an appointment
If you are concerned about your hearing or interested in purchasing a set of hearing aids, you can book an appointment with us and we can help find the best solution for you.