Pros and Cons of "Open Fit" Hearing Aids

Open Fit Hearing Aids are a new type of Behind the Ear Hearing Aid. It is also called the mini Behind the Ear aid. It fits behind the ear, but is smaller. A very thin, almost invisible tube is used to connect the aid to the ear canal. Open Fit Hearing Aids have less of a occlusion or "plugged up" sensations in the ear canal, allow for increased comfort, reduce feedback and address cosmetic concerns for many users. Open Fit Hearing Aids are designed to hide behind the outer ear, and have ultra-thin tubing to discreetly route sound into the ear. The tubing connects to a soft tip that sits in the ear canal but doesn’t occlude it. The result is a natural, open feeling as airflow and sound enter the ear naturally around the tip, while amplified sound enters through the tip. This is known as “open fitting” and is recommended for mild to moderate high frequency losses.

Open Fit Hearing Aid Pros:

    • Great for high frequency losses due to their "open fit" ability (they don't plug you up)

    • More reliable than In the Ear Hearing Aids in some cases, because the circuitry is out of the ear

    • Not easily visible, especially from the front

    • Comfortable and barely visible

    • No earmold, so less plugged-up feeling

Open Fit Hearing Aid Cons:

    • May not be suitable for more than a mild or moderate hearing loss in the low frequencies

    • Some models do not have manual controls in order to build the hearing aids smaller

    • Might not need a telecoil

    • Sweat might cause malfunction

    • Limited manual control

Pros and Cons of "In the Ear" Hearing Aids

In the Ear Hearing Aids sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. All parts of the hearing aid are contained in a shell that fills in the outer part of the ear. In-the-Ear Hearing Aids are larger than the Completely-In-the-Canal Hearing Aids, and for some people may be easier to handle than smaller aids. These tiny hearing aids are made for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

In the Ear Hearing Aid Pros:

    • Small and discreet for cosmetic purposes

    • Efficient in delivery of high frequencies. (Outer ear collects and focuses high frequency sound waves to the opening of the ear canal).

    • You may be able to use a telephone or headsets normally, because the aid is recessed in the ear.

    • Sound can be reproduced without driving the speaker into distortion, as speaker is near the eardrum

In the Ear Hearing Aid Cons:

    • Not appropriate for severe to profound hearing losses. (Not enough power without having feedback)

    • Not appropriate for high frequency (ski-slope) type hearing loss. (Too much occlusion)

    • Not suggested for children, as their ears grow too fast.

    • Difficult to use and operate for persons with dexterity or eyesight problems. (Small size and battery)

    • In the Canal hearing aids have the highest repair rate compared to other hearing aid types.

    • Can't have a larger vent opening than a Completely in the canal

    • Can't utilize more advanced circuitry because of less room for components.

    • Short battery life

    • Too small for directional microphone

    • Ear might feel plugged up unless aid is vented.

    • Vulnerable to wax and moisture.

    • May not fit well in smaller ears

Pros and Cons of "Behind the Ear" Hearing Aids

Behind the Ear Hearing Aids are longer in shape, sit behind or on top of the outer ear (following the contour behind the outer ear) and have a tubing that routes sounds down into the ear to an ear tip or earmold in the ear canal. Behind the Ear Hearing Aids can be used with an earmold and come in different colors and style. Most parts are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is connected to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. They can generally can house more features, controls, and power than custom models. Also, the Behind the Ear Hearing aids are easy to be cleaned and handled, and are relatively sturdy.

Behind the Ear Hearing Aid Pros:

    • The hearing aid fits over and behind the ear, so there is a great amount of flexibility as to what size or type of earmold fits in the ear or ear canal.

    • Earmolds can be made of hard or soft materials, can be modified or changed at will and for less expense that remaking the shell of a an in the ear type aid.

    • Can be used for severe and profound hearing losses, as the microphone is further from ear canal and feedback is less likely.

    • They are sometimes less expensive than in the ear type aids.

    • More options can be selected, such as connections for assistive listening devices, and more recently, attachments for blue tooth technology.

    • Wide selection of case colors can be used to blend with hair color.

    • Larger controls and battery sizes are available.

Behind the Ear Hearing Aid Cons:

    • Behind the Ears are more visible for those without much hair.

    • Behind the Ears can be more inconvenient for physically active people.

    • Behind the Ears are more susceptible to moisture and perspiration damage.

    • Plugged-up feeling from earmold unless vented.