Collapse All Expand All

Hearing aid electronics control how sound is transferred from the environment to your inner ear. All hearing aids amplify sounds, making them louder so that you can hear them better. Most hearing aid manufacturers now only produce digital hearing aids — analog hearing aids are being phased out. With digital technology, a computer chip converts the incoming sound into digital code, then analyzes and adjusts the sound based on your hearing loss, listening needs and the level of the sounds around you. The signals are then converted back into sound waves and delivered to your ears. The result is sound that's more finely tuned to your hearing loss. Digital hearing aids are available in all styles and price ranges.

Some hearing aid options improve your ability to hear in specific situations:

  • Directional microphones. These microphones pick up sounds coming from in front of you better than coming from behind or beside you. This technology improves your ability to hear when you're in an environment with a lot of background noise. Typically you'll have both a regular microphone and a directional microphone, so you can switch between the two types. Some hearing aids automatically switch between the regular and directional modes.
  • Telephone adapters. This technology, also referred to as telecoil T switches, makes it easier to hear when talking on the telephone. The telecoil eliminates the sounds from your environment and only picks up the sounds from the telephone. Some hearing aids switch automatically when the phone is held up to the hearing aid, while others require flipping a switch. Keep in mind that this technology works only with telephones that are compatible with hearing aids — most cell phones aren't.
  • Bluetooth technology. New hearing aids can transmit sound from Bluetooth devices, such as Bluetooth cell phones. These hearing aids require an interface that wirelessly picks up the Bluetooth signal from Bluetooth compatible devices and transmits the signal to the hearing aid. You don't have to hold the phone to your ear or hearing aid to hear the sounds.
  • Remote controls. Some hearing aids use a remote control that makes volume control adjustments or other changes without touching the hearing aid. The remote may also make other adjustments, such as activating the directional microphone or increasing the noise reduction.

St. Anthony’s Audiology and Hearing Center is proud to partner with a variety of manufacturers; as a result, we provide our patients with the most appropriate amplification for hearing needs.  We encourage you to call us and/or schedule an appointment to further discuss your options and available hearing-loss solutions.


Hearing aids contain many of the same parts in which to carry sound from the environment into your ear.  However, hearing aids come in a variety of styles, sizes, and fittings. 

Some hearing aids fit partially in your ear canal; others are small enough to fit inside your ear canal, making them nearly invisible.

Common Hearing Aid Styles: 

Collapse All Expand All

An in-the-canal hearing aid is custom molded and fits partly in the ear canal, but not as deeply as the completely-in-the-canal aid. This hearing aid can improve mild to moderate hearing loss in adults. An in-the-canal hearing aid:

  • Is less visible in the ear
  • Is easy to use with the telephone
  • Includes features that won't fit on completely-in-the-canal aids, but the small size can make the features difficult to adjust
  • May not fit well in smaller ears


A larger version of the in-the-canal hearing aid, the half-shell is custom molded and fills the lower portion of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear. This style is appropriate for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. A half-shell hearing aid:

  • Is bigger than an in-the-canal hearing aid
  • Is a little easier to handle than are the smaller hearing aids
  • Includes additional features, such as directional microphones and volume control
  • Fits most ears

An in-the-ear (full-shell) hearing aid is custom made and fills most of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear. This style is helpful for people with mild to severe hearing loss. An in-the-ear hearing aid:

  • Is more visible to others
  • May pick up wind noise
  • Contains helpful features, such as volume control, that are easier to adjust
  • Is generally easier to insert into the ear
  • Uses larger batteries, which typically last longer and are easier to handle

Behind-the-ear hearing aids hook over the top of your ear and rest behind the ear. The hearing aid picks up sound, amplifies it and carries the amplified sound to an ear mold that fits inside your ear canal. This type of aid is appropriate for almost all types of hearing loss and for people of all ages. A behind-the-ear aid:

  • Is the largest, most visible type of hearing aid, though some new versions are smaller, streamlined and barely visible
  • Is capable of more amplification than are other hearing aid styles

Open-fit hearing aids are small behind-the-ear-style devices.  Sound travels from the instrument through a small tube or wire into a tiny dome or speaker, inside the ear canal. Open-fit aids maintain an open ear canal.  Such aids are ideal for mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss in which low-frequency hearing remains normal or near normal.  

Open-fit hearing aid characteristics:

  • Is less visible
  • Does not plug the ear (small in-the-canal hearing aids)
  • Uses extremely small batteries
  • Lacks manual adjustments because of its small size
| Login
Copyright 2015 by St. Anthony's Physician Organization