Harvard Health Letter

A better hearing aid?

Open-fit models don't block the ear canal, so some people find them more comfortable.

Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, and their insides have gone digital and amazingly diminutive, like so many other gadgets these days. But for all the technological pizzazz, hearing aids today have the same three basic parts as yesterday's models: a microphone that captures sound, a processor that amplifies it, and a tiny speaker. (The speaker is sometimes referred to as the receiver, a confusing bit of jargon.)

Some types of hearing aids fit all three parts into a single piece. These "in-the-ear" aids range in size, but they can be small enough to fit into the ear canal, so you can barely see them. But the size also poses problems. The smaller versions may slip out of place. The controls can be difficult to adjust. Sometimes having a hearing aid in the ear leads to a buildup of earwax.

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