Hearing Aid Types

Hearing Aid Types

You’ll be pleased to learn that today’s instruments are smaller, more comfortable and provide a more natural sound quality. Your audiologist will help you decide which hearing aid style is right for you based on your specific needs and preferences. Available hearing aid styles include: receiver-in-the-canal, open fit, behind-the-ear, completely-in-the-canal, in-the-canal, in-the-ear, and extended wear devices.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

A BTE hearing aid is curved to match the contour of the ear and rests directly behind the ear. A tube connects the hearing aid portion to an earmold, which is custom fit to your ear canal. This type of hearing aid is appropriate for people of all ages and is powerful enough for all types of hearing loss.

A BTE hearing aid:

  • Traditionally has been the largest type of hearing aid, though some newer mini designs are streamlined and less visible
  • Is capable of more amplification than other styles
  • May be more difficult to insert
  • Now available with a rechargeable battery

Receiver-in-the-Canal (RIC)

A RIC hearing aid is a variation of the behind-the-ear hearing aid. A thin wire, rather than tubing, connects the piece that sits behind the ear and in the ear. This style keeps the ear canal open, allowing low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally and high-frequency sounds to be amplified through the hearing aid. It’s a small and discreet style of hearing aid but powerful enough for treating mild to moderately-severe hearing loss.

The receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid:

  • Has a less visible behind-the-ear portion
  • Offers a more natural sound quality of your own voice
  • May be difficult to handle due to small parts and batteries
  • Now available with a rechargeable battery

In-the-Ear (ITE)

This hearing aid style is designed to fill the outer portion of the ear and is larger than those worn in the ear canals. It is less discreet, but the size allows for more features, larger batteries and makes the unit easier to insert and remove. Those with mild to severe hearing loss can benefit from this style.

An in-the-ear hearing aid:

  • May include features such as volume control and directional microphones that are easier to adjust
  • Is generally easier to insert and remove
  • Uses larger batteries, which are easier to handle and last longer
  • May be susceptible to earwax clogging
  • May pick up more wind noise than smaller devices
  • Is more visible in the ear than smaller devices

In-the-Canal (ITC)

The ITC hearing aid style is designed to fit partly in the ear canal, but not as deeply as a CIC device, resting securely in the lower portion instead. Due to it being slightly larger than a CIC hearing aid, it is easier to insert and remove and its battery life is longer. This style is best for patients with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss.

An in-the-canal hearing aid:

  • Is less visible in the ear than the larger ITE style
  • Offers larger batteries than the CIC style
  • May be susceptible to earwax clogging

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC)

A CIC hearing aid is molded to fit deep inside your ear canal and is the smallest style available. It takes advantage of the ear’s natural ability to collect sound and it’s small discreet size makes the device virtually invisible to others. This style may be a good choice for mild to moderately-severe hearing loss.

A completely-in-the-canal hearing aid:

  • Is the smallest and least visible type of hearing aid
  • Uses very small batteries, which must be changed frequently
  • Doesn’t contain extra features, such as volume control or directional microphones
  • Is more difficult to manage for people with dexterity issues
  • May be more susceptible to earwax clogging

Call Great Lakes ENT Specialists at (231) 489-8151 for more information or to schedule an appointment.