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Open-Fit Hearing Aids: What's the Real Difference?

Open-Fit Hearing Aids: What's the Real Difference?

If you’ve been hearing about open-fit hearing aids but still don’t know what they are or whether they might be the best option for you, keep reading.

Open-fit hearing aids are styles that don’t block the ear canal. Although they’ve regained popularity in recent years, open-fit hearing aids aren’t new. The main reason they’re coming back in style is that their biggest problem – feedback – is no longer as much of an issue. Even basic hearing aids now have advanced feedback management systems that help detect and eliminate it before it reaches your ears.

A natural listening experience

Besides eliminating feedback, open-fit hearing aids provide a more natural listening experience. Instead of the “barrel effect,” sound is free to move around the receiver and into the ear canal. This allows you to hear background noises naturally while the sounds you most need to hear clearly, such as voices, are fed through the hearing aid.

No need for custom fitting

Open-fit hearing aids also don’t require an earmold. Since an audiologist doesn’t have to take impressions of your ear and send them out for custom pieces, they can fit your hearing aids right in the office. You might even walk away with them the same day. For those who have hard-to-fit hearing aids or just want less hassle, this is a desirable feature.

Cosmetic appeal and durability

The case of an open-fit hearing aid sits discreetly behind the ear with small tubing connecting it to the ear canal. Many find this style more aesthetic than those that feature earmolds or are visible outside the ear. Since the hearing aid components are housed further away from the ear canal, they are also less susceptible to damage from moisture and earwax. This could extend the lifetime of your hearing aid.  

The downsides

Despite these advantages, open-fit hearing aids do have a few drawbacks to consider. If you have more severe hearing loss, which requires more amplification, feedback may occur at lower settings in an open-fit style than a closed-fit style. Despite all the advances in feedback management, sound can still move around an open-fit hearing aid and is more readily picked up by the microphone. Another common complaint is that open-fit hearing aids make it more difficult to hear conversation in noisy environments.

Open-fit hearing aids aren’t for everyone, but they could be right for you. Contact an audiologist for a consultation about your hearing loss and recommendations on the type and style of hearing aid that best meets your needs.