Hearing aids amplify sounds in order to help those with hearing loss understand more clearly. While they all work the same, they don’t all look the same. Hearing aids come in a wide variety of styles and sizes, and are worn in or on different parts of the ear. When choosing a hearing aid that is right for you, you’ll want to take several factors into consideration including your degree and type of hearing loss, lifestyle needs, cosmetic preferences and budget.
To help narrow down your choices, the following section discusses the different styles available, including their pros and cons. Our audiologists are happy to assist with any specific questions you might have.
In-The-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids
Hearing aid styles are named according to where they are worn. Hence, In-The-Canal hearing aids are worn inside the ear canal, as their name suggests. They are comprised of a custom-molded housing that contains the electronics, and a thin cord to assist in removal. Due to their deep placement, ITC hearing aids are essentially invisible, making them a popular choice for individuals who don’t want to draw attention to their hearing loss. Their small size translates to fewer features and a shorter battery life, and can prove cumbersome to people with dexterity issues. ITC hearing aids are geared toward individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. Hearing aids within this category include:
- Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids
- Completely In the Canal (CIC) hearing aids
- In The Canal (ITC) hearing aids
In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
In The Ear hearing aids are worn partially in the ear canal, but the faceplate extends into the bowl-shaped portion of the outer ear known as the concha. They have a molded plastic housing that contains the electronics, but a separate volume control button is placed on the exterior of the instrument for easier access. ITE hearing aids are a little bit larger than ITC styles and less unobtrusive, but typically contain more features and have a longer battery life. Patients with mild to severe hearing loss will benefit most from this style.
A variation of this style is the Receiver In The Ear (RITE) hearing aid. The receiver is a separate component worn in the ear, while the housing and electronics are worn behind the ear similar to the below style.
Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
Behind The Ear hearing aids are the most popular and versatile style available, and also the largest and most visible. They hook over the top of the ear and are worn behind it. Sound is transmitted from the receiver to an earmold fitted inside the ear canal. Because of their size, BTE hearing aids feature a long battery life and controls that are easy to reach and operate. They are appropriate for all degrees of hearing loss, and are an especially popular choice with children and older individuals who have trouble operating smaller hearing aids.
A variation of the BTE is the Open Fit hearing aid. It is smaller and lacks an earmold; this keeps the ear canal open, allowing sound to enter freely and eliminating occlusion. It is recommended for patients with high-frequency hearing loss.