Hearing aids come in a wide range of technology levels and styles to meet the wide array of user preferences and hearing assistance capacities. They are offered in various levels ranging from ‘entry-level’ to ‘premium,’ with each level offering different technology and features. Choosing the right hearing aid for your situation depends on your specific hearing requirements, lifestyle and activities, and aesthetic preference. At Tri-City Audiology, our professionals are experts in each hearing aid option and can help you make the right choice.
When considering which hearing aid style you should select, consider the following factors and how they apply to your life and unique hearing situation:
- Degree of hearing loss
- Common activities
- Common environments you’re in
- Cosmetics and aesthetic qualities
- Skin sensitivities
Hearing Aid Styles
Hearing aids worn in the ear are generally custom-fit based on an impression of the ear. There are a variety of ITE styles available:
Invisible In-the-Canal (IIC)
IIC instruments are the smallest custom hearing aids available. They sit in the second bend of the canal and are nearly invisible to the naked eye. They are designed for mild to moderate hearing loss.
Completely In-the-Canal (CIC)
CIC instruments fit deeply into the ear canal. Slightly larger than the IIC, they are still relatively hard to see. They are designed for mild to moderate hearing loss.
In-the-Canal (ITC) or Half Shell
ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl. Since they are slightly larger than the CIC, they are able to hold additional features. These include a larger battery, directional microphones, and volume controls. They are designed for mild to moderate hearing loss.
In-the-Ear (ITE) or Full Shell
Full shell instruments fill the entire outer ear bowl. Due to their larger size, they allow for more features and functions. These include a larger battery, directional microphones, volume controls, and can fit larger receivers for more severe hearing losses. They are designed for mild to severe hearing loss.
Behind-the-Ear instruments sit behind or on top of the outer ear with a tube that connects to an ear tip or mold inside of the ear. BTE’s offer the widest range of features, colors, battery types, and degrees of power. Today, they’re offered in small, discreet designs that are often unnoticeable when worn. For those who prefer to “show them off”, they also come in multiple colors and designs.
Mini BTE styles are designed to hide behind the outer ear and have ultra-thin tubing to discreetly route sound into the ear. The tubing typically connects to a soft tip that sits in the ear canal but doesn’t occlude it. The result is a natural, open feeling as airflow and sound enter the ear naturally around the tip, while amplified sound enters through the tip. This is known as “open fitting” and is recommended for mild to moderate hearing loss.
Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE) or Receiver-in-Canal (RIC)
RITE hearing aid styles are BTEs that have the speaker built into the ear tip instead of the main body of the hearing aid. It is slightly larger than the Mini BTE but is still relatively unnoticeable when worn. They are designed for mild to severe hearing loss.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) with Earmold
BTEs with earmolds have a longer shape that follows the contour behind the outer ear. Their larger size enables them to house features such as a program button and volume control. The earmold color and style, as well as the wearer’s hairstyle, determine exactly how they’ll look on each person. They are designed for mild to profound hearing loss.