Types of Hearing Aids
There are many types of hearing aids today and the type of hearing aid is dependent upon both the style chosen and technology chosen.
Styles of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are available in many different sizes and styles thanks to advancements in digital technology, miniaturization of digital electronic part and fresh focus on design among the hearing aid manufacturers. Many of today's hearing aids are considered sleek, compact and innovative - offering solutions to a wide range of hearing aid wearers.
- When selecting style the following is considered:
- The degree of the hearing loss (power requirements)
- Manual dexterity abilities
- Patient budget
Completely-In-the-Canal (CIC) - The smallest custom hearing aids made, CICs sit deeply and entirely inside the ear canal. They usually require a “removal string” due to their small size and the fact that they fit so deeply into the canal. They fit mild to moderate hearing loss and offer high cosmetic appeal.
In-The-Canal (ITC) sits in the lower portion of the outer ear's bowl and are slightly larger than a CIC hearing aid. Because of their slightly larger size, the often have a longer battery life than CICs and come available with more options depending upon the size of ear. They fit mild to moderate hearing losses.
Half-Shell - The half shell model fills half of the bowl of the outer ear and like ITC hearing aids, the allow more options and longer battery life due to the larger size. This size is ideal for persons seeking a smaller hearing aid that may have potential dexterity concerns.
Full Shell or In-The-Ear (ITE) - The largest of the custom hearing aids made, full shell hearing aids fill up the entire bowl of the outer ear. This size of this style allows the maximum number of controls and features, and is able to fit mild to severe hearing losses.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) 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 occlude it. 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 instead the speaker of the hearing aid sits inside the ear canal versus the main body of the hearing aid 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 the "open" fitting.
BTE with custom earmold - BTEs with custom earmolds fit the widest range of hearing loss, from mild to profound. They are slightly longer in shape and are contoured to sit nicely 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. BTEs are connected to the ear canal via custom-made plastic tubing and earmold. The earmold color and style, as well as the wearer's hairstyle will determine how this style looks on each person.