Hearing Aid Styles and Technology
When considering the style of hearing aids, there are many different options to choose from. Your audiologist will take into consideration your lifestyle and listening needs, the shape and size of your ear canal, skin sensitivity, medical contraindications, the degree of hearing loss, manual dexterity and visual abilities, and cosmetics when making the decision.
Hearing aids that are “in the ear”
Hearing aids worn in the ear are custom-fit, based on a cast or impression of the ear. They're available in different skin tones to camouflage with the outer ear. There are several styles – each is listed below, ranging from smallest to largest.
Invisible in canal (IIC)
The smallest custom style, IIC instruments, sit invisibly in or past the second bend of the ear canal. IIC devices are specifically designed for mild-to-moderate hearing losses.
Completely in canal (CIC)
One of the smallest custom styles, CIC instruments, fit deeply and entirely within the ear canal. They fit mild-to-moderate hearing losses and offer high cosmetic appeal, as they're nearly invisible when worn.
In the canal (ITC)
ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because they're slightly larger than CIC models, they have a longer battery life, and can host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments, and controls such as volume controls. They fit mild to severe hearing losses.
Full shell in the ear (ITE)
Full shell models sit flush within the entire ear bowl. Their size allows us to maximize controls and features, such as directional microphones, volume control, and the ability to change programs. They use a larger battery size than the smaller styles and can fit a larger receiver with enough power for severe hearing losses. Because of their flexibility, they fit mild-to-severe hearing loss.
Hearing aids that are "behind the Ear"
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) models sit behind or on top of the outer ear, with tubing/wiring that routes sound down into the ear and connects to an earmold secure in the ear canal. BTEs come in a variety of shades to blend with hair, skin tone, or glasses frames. There are different BTE styles to accommodate different features, controls, and degrees of power (a more powerful hearing aid is needed as the severity of the hearing loss increases).
Receiver in Canal (RIC)
RIC hearing aids hide in the space behind your ear, and are very discrete. There is a wire that tucks into your ear canal with a dome (small rubber nub) at the end, covering the speaker. RIC hearing instruments fit mild-to-severe hearing losses.
Behind The Ear With Earmold
BTE hearing aids are larger and more powerful than RIC hearing aids. They sit behind your ear and are connected to an earmold that fits perfectly into your ear canal. BTE hearing aids fit mild to profound hearing losses.
Hearing Aid Technology
Once the patient and the audiologist have chosen which style of hearing aid is best suited for the patient, the next step is to choose the level of technology in the hearing device - Basic, Advanced, or Premium. A hearing aid with a higher level of technology will have more advanced features. The cost of the hearing aid depends on the level of technology, not the style of the hearing aid.
A Basic hearing aid offers less options for customization to unique hearing losses and has less advanced features for controlling feedback/whistling and background noise. Advanced or Premium hearing aids are more sophisticated in their ability to process speech, while separating it from background noise, increasing the clarity of the speech.