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Hearing aids for teens and adults


If you have a hearing loss, it affects how people relate to you and how you feel about yourself. It also affects how well you do at work or school. Researchers estimate that 28 million people in the United States have a hearing loss. Most people do not realize that hearing loss can cause you embarrassment, stress, and fatigue.

Family and friends can be just as bothered by your hearing loss as you are. Talking takes extra effort and conversations take longer. They cannot talk with you by phone the way they used to. They feel at a loss to help and often wish for the “old relationship” they remember.

Hearing aids can help most hearing losses.

What is a hearing aid and how can it help?

A hearing aid is an electronic device that fits inside or behind the ear. It makes sounds louder. 

Hearing aids should allow you to hear others speaking to you at a comfortable level. Achieving this goal depends on the degree and type of hearing loss you have. If it is a severe-to-profound hearing loss, hearing aids may not be able to amplify speech to levels that you can understand clearly. Hearing aids will still help you be aware of speech and sounds around you. These can provide helpful additions to visual and facial cues.

Hearing aids do not make your hearing normal again. And they may not be effective in some listening situations. You still might have trouble hearing someone talking to you in places with a lot of background noise, like restaurants, classrooms, or the hospital cafeteria. You might also have trouble hearing speech at a distance, such as someone talking to you from another room.

Are all hearing aids the same?

Hearing aids come in different sizes, colors, and designs. However, they do have some parts that are alike:

  • A microphone to pick up sound
  • An amplifier to make the sound louder
  • A receiver to send the amplified sound into the ear
  • Batteries to power the hearing aid

Some hearing aids also have earmolds (earpieces) to direct the sound into the ear. Earmolds are coupled with behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids.

Your audiologist will advise you on which hearing aid style and features will best meet your needs. It will be based on your listening needs, type of hearing loss, and lifestyle,

Will hearing aids help me hear better on the telephone or in public places?

Some hearing aids have a special “T” setting. You can switch from the normal microphone "on" setting to a "T" setting to hear better on the telephone. All wired telephones made today must be hearing aid compatible. The "T" setting reduces background sounds, and you only pick up sound from the telephone. This allows you to talk without your hearing aid "whistling" because the microphone is turned off.

You can also use the "T" setting in theaters, auditoriums, houses of worship, and other places that have induction loop or FM sound systems. These systems amplify the speaker’s voice more than any other noise. Discuss the option of a "T" switch with your audiologist.

What are the different styles of hearing aids?

CIC hearing aid

Completely in the Canal (CIC)

ITC hearing aid

In the Canal (ITC)

ITE hearing aid

In the Ear (ITE)

BTE hearing aid

Behind the Ear (BTE)

In-the-canal and completely-in-the-canal aids

These hearing aids fit partly or completely into the ear canal. They are the smallest aids available so you can hardly see them in the ear.


  • Small size


  • Not recommended for children because their ears are still growing and the hard plastic case can be a safety issue
  • Increased chance of feedback (whistling)
  • Volume control and battery door are small and may be hard to use
  • Easily damaged by earwax, ear drainage, and moisture
  • Higher repair rate compared to the other styles
  • Does not fit all hearing losses or small ear canals

In-the-ear aids

All parts of the hearing aid are contained in a shell that fills in the outer part of the ear. These aids are larger than canal aids and may be easier to handle than smaller aids.


  • Small size
  • Easier to handle than smaller aids


  • Not recommended for children because their ears are still growing and the hard plastic case can be a safety issue
  • Increased chance of feedback (whistling)
  • Volume control and battery door are small and may be hard to use
  • Easily damaged by earwax, ear drainage, and moisture
  • Does not fit all hearing losses or small ear canals

Behind-the-ear aids

All parts are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear; a clear piece of tubing connects the case to an earmold. This style often is chosen for young children for safety and growth reasons. We also recommend these aids for people who have a severe-to-profound hearing loss.


  • Suitable for all ages and for any degree of hearing loss, from mild to profound
  • Flexible to different types of hearing loss or to a change in hearing
  • Available in fun colors
  • Comes with a switch to allow you to hear better in theatres, churches, and schools


  • An earmold that does not fit properly or is damaged may cause feedback (whistling). To prevent this, the earmold may need to be remade periodically.

Special hearing aids can be built to handle certain types of hearing losses. For example, a bone-conduction hearing aid uses a headband and a bone vibrator. It is for a person who has no ear canal or outer ear. Hearing aids are available that can help with almost any kind of hearing loss.

What kind of hearing aid is best for teens and adults?

Your audiologist will want to find out about your typical hearing activities: at home with your family, at work or school; and in your social and leisure time. You are a very important partner in this discussion. Your answers will help decide the type and style of hearing aid that is best for you. This includes what hearing aid features you need.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are best for young children. Teens and adults have a broader range of styles from which to choose, including: behind the ear (BTE), in the ear (ITE), in the canal (ITC), and completely in the canal (CIC).

If you have hearing loss in both ears, the audiologist may recommend that you use 2 hearing aids. In most cases, wearing 2 hearing aids helps the patient locate specific sounds. This improves listening in noisy places and offers better overall hearing. The audiologist will provide you with the best hearing aids for you and will teach you how to use them.

What is the St. Jude hearing aid policy?

Hearing aids vary in price by style, features, and related needs for fitting. A rule of thumb is that hearing aids cost more when they have more advanced circuitry. Most insurance plans do not cover hearing aids. However, St. Jude will provide hearing aids to patients who have lost hearing because of their disease or treatment. St. Jude will not replace hearing aids if they are lost or damaged through neglect or misuse. You can buy hearing aid insurance through:

Midwest Hearing Industries
4510 W. 77th St. #201
Minneapolis, MN 55435
800-821-5471, fax 952-835-9481
Web site:

What about batteries?

Batteries may last from several days to several weeks. This depends on how much power the hearing aid needs, the type of battery used, and whether the wearer uses the aid routinely with an assistive listening device. St. Jude does not provide hearing aid batteries. You can purchase them at any pharmacy, such as Target or Walgreens.

What if I decide I do not want the hearing aid?

If you decide you do not want or cannot adjust to the hearing aid for any reason, simply return the hearing aid to St. Jude Rehabilitation Services at the following address:

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Rehab Services, MS 113
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105-3678


If you have questions about hearing aids, call Rehabilitation Services at 901-595-3621 and ask to speak to an audiologist. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3621.

Adapted from materials from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association ( and the American Academy of Audiology (


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).