In this report
Overview
How to buy a hearing aid
Protect your ears from noise
Types
Features
Nonprescription hearing aids
Also in This Issue
This article was featured in the July 2009 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

Which type is best for you?

Last reviewed: July 2009

This article is the archived version of a report that appeared in July 2009 Consumer Reports magazine.

The ideal hearing aid for you depends on the severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your manual dexterity. Smaller aids are less visible, but you pay a price for vanity: They offer fewer features (see Features) and might be more difficult to manipulate. People with more severe hearing loss might get better results with a behind-the-ear model with earmolds or an in-the-ear model. In our survey, owners of behind-the-ear, open-fit designs reported the most improved hearing in loud social settings. Prices listed below are for a single aid.

 

Behind the ear open-fit

Behind the ear open-fit Illustrations by Aaron Ashley

Pros: Comfortable, barely visible. No earmold, so less plugged-up feeling. Might not need a telecoil.
Cons: Sweat might cause malfunction. Limited manual controls.

Price: $1,850 to $2,700

 

Behind the ear with earmold

Behind the ear with earmold

Pros: Most versatile and reliable. Fits widest range of hearing loss. Good for children.
Cons: Most visible. Vulnerable to sweat and wax. Plugged-up feeling from earmold unless vented.

Price: $1,200 to $2,700

 

Completely in the canal

Completely in the canal

Pros: Does not need telecoil. Almost invisible.
Cons: Short battery life. Too small for directional microphone. Ear might feel plugged up unless aid is vented. Vulnerable to wax and moisture.

Price: $1,365 to $2,860

 

In the canal

In the canal

Pros: Barely visible.
Cons: Same issues as with completely-in-the-canal models, though less severe. If the ear canal is large enough, might have telecoil or directional microphone.

Price: $1,300 to $2,750

 

In the ear

In the ear

Pros: More room for features such as telecoil, directional microphone, volume control. Less of a plugged-up feeling.
Cons: More visible. Vulnerable to wax and moisture.

Price: $1,200 to $2,700

Price source: Hearing Journal, 2008.