Hearing Aid Styles
Just like any piece of advanced technology, there is a wide variety of hearing aid styles available to patients to choose from. The ones you decide upon depend on the functions you need as well as your budget. Other factors to consider as you choose a hearing aid style include esthetic appeal and your level of hearing loss.
At your hearing aid evaluation appointment, your audiologist will help you determine the styles of hearing aid that are most appropriate for your specific diagnosis. From there, you can make your final decision based on all of the elements that are most important to you.
Here are the most common styles of hearing aids available today.
Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids
The first classification of hearing aids are behind-the-ear models. These are exactly what they sound like: a hearing aid in which the bulk of the hearing technology rests behind your ear. Discreet tubing connects the device to your ear canal so that the amplified sound can be directed properly. Behind-the-ear models are generally designed to match the user’s skin tone and hair color as much as possible so that they do not stand out.
This style of hearing aid is ideal when you have trouble picking up high frequency sounds. The mini BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aid features a tube that doesn’t actually block your ear canal. Instead, it simply rests inside it without making heavy contact to your ear. This allows air and sound to enter normally, creating a very natural feel but still allowing the amplified sound to be directed through the tube as necessary.
The RIC is suitable for hearing loss ranging anywhere from mild to severe. It looks and functions much like a mini BTE. The primary difference is that the receiver is housed within the ear tip that enters your ear canal, rather than in the behind-the-ear portion of the device. This design serves to reduce distortion in the amplified sound.
BTE with earmold
For cases of very severe hearing loss, your BTE hearing aid may be equipped with a piece that is custom molded to the shape of your ear. This style of hearing aid allows for more sophisticated controls, such as volume, which may not be available with other styles.
In-the-Ear Hearing Aids
In-the-ear hearing aids form the other category of models. This type of hearing aid is very discreet because there is no outer piece. The entire device rests within your ear canal, at varying depths depending on the specific style.
Invisible in the canal (IIC)
Providing the ultimate level of discretion, this style of hearing aid is designed to be almost invisible. They achieve this function by being so small that they can be inserted beyond the second bend of your ear canal. IIC hearing aids are not generally suitable for people suffering from more severe hearing loss.
Completely in the canal (CIC)
Also suited for all but severe cases of hearing loss, CIC hearing aids function very similarly to invisible models. The primary difference is that they do not fit quite so far into the ear canal, so they are slightly more visible than IICs.
The most visible portion of your CIC is a small plastic tip that is used for insertion and removal of the hearing aids. Otherwise, they are a very good choice if you are looking for a more budget-friendly option that doesn’t stand out to onlookers.
In the canal (ITC)
Perfect for patients suffering from mild hearing loss to more moderate cases, ITC hearing aids rest in the outer portion of the ear canal. Though they aren’t as discreet as IIC or CIC models, they generally boast longer battery life. ITC are also ideal for users who require more advanced features that can’t be fit onto styles that fit deeper in the ear. Examples include volume control and directional receivers.
Full shell or in the ear (ITE)
ITEs are the only in-the-ear hearing aid style that are suitable for more severe hearing loss. They fit into the entire bowl of the outer ear, and due to their size have a longer battery life even than ITCs. Because they are the biggest in-the-ear model, they can also fit a wide range of extra features, should your hearing loss demand them.
Which Hearing Aid Style Is Best For You?
Choosing the right hearing aid for you isn’t as easy as trying on a new shirt. There are many factors to consider. Beyond your hearing health, you’ve also got to consider your budget, your esthetic concerns, and plenty of other things.
During your hearing aid evaluation, your audiologist will help you determine the best options for you so that you can make an informed decision. Schedule an appointment today to get started.