Conventional ear molds are not required for an open ear fitting. Instead, a small tube carries the sound from the open ear fitting hearing aid into the ear and is held in place by a small tip and/or sprung plastic projection. These small earpieces, although not suitable for everyone, can give a more natural sound and do not feel as ‘full’ in the ear as conventional ear molds.
The popularity of mini-behind-the-ear (BTE) open ear hearing aids has increased significantly. Hearing aid wearers often prefer the open ear fit due to the natural sound quality, better physical comfort, and improved ability to hear in noisy listening environments. Additional preference for open ear hearing aids includes the ultra small size, ease of use, and same day testing and fitting of this style of hearing aid. The open ear fit significantly eliminates the sensation of occlusion (ear canal blockage causing an echo, barrel or tunnel like sensation of sound) and poor sound quality of the wearer’s own voice.
The majority of open ear fittings consist of mini or ultra-small (BTE) hearing aids. There are two different types of open ear mini-BTEs: those with the speaker (receiver) in the ear (RITE) and those with the receiver in the aid (RITA). The RITA houses the receiver in the behind-the-ear portion of the hearing aid. A ultra thin acoustic tube is connected to the hearing aid which is then coupled to the ear canal with soft, non-occluding (non blocking) ear domes. The RITE houses the receiver in the ear canal. A ultra-thin wire is connected to the hearing aid which is then coupled to the speaker in the ear canal with soft, non-occluding ear dome. The thin-wire fitting (RITE) and the thin-tube fitting (RITA) are cosmetically similar.
It offers traditional sound quality, open ear fittings virtually eliminates the feedback or whistle when using land line phones and cell phones. Furthermore, wearers frequently report improvement in ability to hear and understand conversations when communicating with others via the phone.