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Types of Hearing Aids

Presently there are many types of hearing aids available, depending upon both the style and technology used.

Styles of Hearing Aids

Thanks to advancements in digital technology and miniaturization of internal components, hearing aids are now available in many different sizes and styles. Many of today's hearing aids are sleek, compact, and innovative, offering solutions to a wide range of hearing aid wearers.

When selecting a hearing aid style, the following information is considered:

  • The degree of the hearing loss (power requirements)
  • Manual dexterity & visual abilities
  • Patient budget
  • Cosmetics
  • Skin sensitivities
  • Anatomical/medical considerations

In-the-Ear Hearing Aid Styles

Invisible-In-The-Canal (IIC) – Now the newest and smallest custom hearing aids available, these devices fit deep inside of the ear canal and take advantage of the natural acoustics of the ear. They can be used for mild to moderate hearing loss and they are virtually invisible.

Completely-In-the-Canal (CIC) – These very small custom devices sit entirely inside the ear canal. They usually require a “removal string” due to their small size and the depth they rest inside the ear. They can be used for mild to moderate hearing loss and offer high cosmetic appeal.

In-The-Canal (ITC) – Slightly larger than a CIC, the ITC sits in the lower portion of the outer ear's bowl. Because of their slightly larger size, they often have a longer battery life than CIC hearing aids and can provide more options, depending upon the size of the ear. They can be used for mild to moderate hearing loss.

Half-Shell - The half shell model fills half of the bowl of the outer ear. Like ITC hearing aids, they allow for more options and longer battery life due to their larger size. This size is ideal for persons who have dexterity concerns, but still desire to wear a smaller hearing aid. They can be used for mild to severe hearing loss.

Full Shell or In-The-Ear (ITE) – The largest of the custom hearing aids, ITE's fill the entire bowl of the outer ear. This size allows the maximum number of controls and features. They are used for mild to severe hearing loss.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aid Styles

Mini-BTE with slim tubes – This type of BTE is often referred to as an "open fit" hearing aid. The small miniature hearing aid sits behind the ear and transmits sound into the ear canal via a thin plastic tube. The tubing connects to a soft tip that sits in the ear canal but doesn’t obstruct the ear. The result is a natural, open feeling as air and sound enter the ear naturally around the tip, while amplified sound enters through the tip. This style of BTE is recommended for mild to moderate high frequency losses and offers cosmetic appeal to the small size of the hearing aid.

Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE) – RITE hearing aids, also known as Receiver-in-canal (RIC) models, are similar to the mini BTE, however the speaker of the hearing aid sits inside the ear canal instead of behind the ear. Although it looks like a mini BTE when worn on the ear, the RITE style fits a higher degree of hearing loss (mild to severe), while still providing an "open" fit.

Behind-the-Ear with custom ear mold – These devices fit the widest range of hearing loss, from mild to profound. They are slightly longer in shape and are contoured to sit behind the ear for a sleek, compact look. This style of hearing aid typically offers a wide array of features and options, as well as more control and power than custom models. They are connected to the ear canal via custom-made plastic tubing and ear mold. The ear mold's color and design, as well as the wearer's hairstyle will determine how this type of hearing aid appears on each person.

Hearing Aid Technology

A wide range of technology and a host of features are available in each hearing aid style. The cost of hearing aids generally depend upon the technology and the number of features the instrument uses, and not necessarily upon the style selected. Today's digital hearing aids are typically offered in various levels such as basic or entry-level to advanced or premium-level models. Within each level, different technology and features are available.

Basic digital hearing aids generally require the wearer to make some manual adjustments in certain listening environments, such as turning a volume control up or down, or pushing a button to change listening programs. In contrast, a premium or more advanced hearing aid responds automatically to changes in the listener's environment, making adjustments based upon the signals being detected by the hearing aid. The hearing aid wearer is not required to make any manual changes. As the level of the technology increases in hearing aids, so do the availability of advanced features, such as directional microphones, noise reduction, feedback management, wind noise reduction, data logging/learning, and bluetooth interface.

To learn more about the types and styles of hearing aids available, contact your nearest Life Hearing Clinic to schedule a complimentary demonstration and consultation.