Believe it or not, the concept on which open fit hearing aids are based isn't exactly a new one. One could actually consider them a refinement of behind-the-ear hearing aids. Per the Mayo Clinic, BTE hearing aids are typically the largest of their kind, hooking over the top of the ear and connected to an earmold inside the ear via a tube. 

Although capable of considerable sound amplification, they also tend to be susceptible to wind and background noise. Open-fit hearing aids improve on the design of BTE hearing aids by being considerably smaller and less visible. They also leave the ear canal almost completely open, as they require only a small receiver connected to the main unit via a thin wire.

This has a few primary benefits.
  • Because the ear canal is left open, low-frequency sounds come through with much greater clarity. 
  • Hearing aids that block the ear canal can cause the user to feel their own voice is somewhat distorted or muffled due to the blockage. Open-fit hearing aids do not have this drawback.
  • Given their small size, they tend to be less susceptible to blockages due to earwax. 
  • There is little to no telephone feedback when using an open-fit hearing aid.
  • They can potentially be a good fit for individuals who are somewhat sensitive about their hearing impairment, as they are less immediately noticeable. 

How Do Open Fit Hearing Aids Work?

An open-fit hearing aid functions in essentially the same way as any other assisted hearing device. The hearing aid picks up sounds through a receiver, located either on the main body of the hearing aid or within the ear. This sound is then fed through an amplifier, and then finally sent through a speaker. 

Coupled with recent advancements in digital feedback suppression, this allows open-fit hearing aids to function with a remarkable level of clarity. 

Is an Open Fit Hearing Aid Right for Me?

Typically, open-fit hearing aids work best for individuals with only mild to moderate hearing impairment. In cases of severe hearing loss, an open-fit hearing aid may be subject to feedback due to the high level of amplification required. Open-fit hearing aids are also an excellent choice for anyone suffering from excessive earwax buildup.

Older individuals may also find open-fit hearing aids to be problematic, even without severe hearing loss. Their small size means they require a fair amount of dexterity to manipulate and operate. This means that for anyone with any sort of mobility impairment, using an open-fit hearing aid can be an exercise in frustration.

Ultimately, the best advice we can offer is to talk to a professional audiologist. Work with them to determine your level of hearing impairment, and which device is best suited to your needs. Connect Hearing can help. 

Find a Connect Hearing Center near you, and we'll give you a hearing test and consultation free of charge.