Open Fitting Hearing Aids are known as Open-Fit due to the fact the ear canal remains open. There is no blockage or impediment to the ear canal. There are many advantages to this basic concept.
The open fitting concept is not necessarily brand new. It’s been around for sometime. The reason it has become popular now is the advancements in feedback cancellation methods.
Feedback is characterized as the annoying whistling or buzzing noise of a hearing aid. Feedback occurs when a sound is amplified and after that reamplified. It is similar to holding a microphone right in front of a speaker. This happens to a hearing aid when sound is amplified and then the sound “feeds back” into the microphone through a vent in the aid. It also happens when sound leaks through the ear canal and hearing aid back into the microphone. It can be very annoying and embarrassing for the wearer.
Feedback cancellation systems reduce or eliminate the threat of feedback. This feature allows the ear canal to be remain open. The threat of feedback is drastically reduced or even eliminated.
Open Fitting Hearing Aids: Natural Sound Quality
Open Fitting Hearing Instruments eliminate the “barrel effect” or hollow sound often associated with custom fit hearing aids. To understand how custom fit hearing aids sound. Put your fingers in your ears and then begin to talk. Doesn’t sound very good. By leaving the ear canal open, you eliminate this sensation. Patients will experience hearing the sounds in a manner similar to the way they have always heard them. Only the sounds or frequencies that patients have difficulty hearing will be amplified. This allows for a clear, natural sound.
Open Fitting Hearing Aids: Cosmetically Pleasing and Virtually Invisible
I think that when you say the word “hearing aid” most people have a vision of their grandfather with a large full shell hearing aid protruding from his ear. And you probably are picturing him fiddling with the volume control.
Virtually all open fitting hearing instruments fit neatly behind the ear. They have a slim translucent wire that is small enough to fit into the ear canal.
Many patients believe they just want to hear, but the vast majority also want the hearing aid to go unnoticed.
It doesn’t matter how old we are. We never want to feel older than what we really are. I believe that’s why we are seeing much younger people wearing this type of instrument. People of all ages have hearing loss. If more people get help for their hearing because hearing aids look better, that’s a good thing.
Open Fitting Hearing Aid Benefits
Open Fitting Hearing Instruments do not require the time consuming process of making custom ear molds. There are no impressions to make. You don’t have to wait a week or two to receive your aids from the lab. Most can be fitted the same day that hearing is tested.
I think that this is a tremendous benefit for the patient. You can “test drive” the device right in our office. We can also simulate “real world” activities such as eating in a noisy restaurant. Hear how they sound while driving in your car with simulation software and surround sound speaker system. It’s about as close as you can get to the “real world”.
The Reliability of Open Fitting Hearing Aids
The worst enemies of a hearing aid are ear wax and moisture. When ear wax gets inside your hearing aid it can cause big problems. The wax will block the opening of the aid. Over time, this takes a toll on hearing aids. This can result in a costly repair. Or worse yet, replacement.
With the Open Fitting Hearing Aids, the components of the device are actually outside the ear, and away from wax and moisture. Service issues are far fewer than traditional style devices.