Hearing aids are broken down into two major styles: behind-the-ear and in-the-ear. There are advantages to both styles, all of which will be discussed at the hearing aid assessment appointment with an audiologist. The following is a break down of the styles of hearing aids:
Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Style Hearing Aids
Receiver In Canal (RIC)
Receiver in Canal style hearing aids are small, discreet and extremely light. They are the most popular choice for patients and can accommodate hearing losses in the mild-to-severe hearing loss range. They are suitable for almost any hearing loss patient. The small body of the hearing aid sits behind the ear and is barely, if not, completely invisible. The thin receiver (speaker unit) attaches to the body of the hearing aid and transmits the sound into the ear canal. Receiver in the canal hearing aids are an excellent choice for patients seeking a comfortable, discrete, and stylish solution for their hearing loss. Receiver in canal hearing aids are available in both the traditional battery operated model, as well as a rechargeable model.
Traditional Behind-the-Ear (BTE)
A traditional behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid is both versatile and able to provide significant volume for patients who require more power. They are able to fit any hearing loss, but are more commonly recommended for patients presenting with a severe or profound hearing loss. Behind-the-ear hearing aids consist of the body of the hearing aid, and an earmold. The earmold is attached to the hearing aid via a tube that needs to be changed every six months by the audiologist. Behind-the-ear hearing aids are also available in both a battery operated or rechargeable model.
Custom Style Hearing Aids
As the style implies, custom hearing aids are molded to the patient’s ear. An earmold impression is taken of the patient’s ear and sent to the hearing aid manufacturer in order to ensure a proper fit.
Invisible in the Canal (IIC)
Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids are the smallest available custom hearing aid, and require a slightly deeper earmold impression than the other custom styles discussed in this section. IIC hearing aids are an ideal option for patients with a mild-to-moderate hearing loss looking for a completely invisible solution. At this time, the invisible-in-the-ear hearing aids are only battery operated, and do not come rechargeable. The depth of the hearing aid in the ear depends on the patient’s ear canal length and size and can be discussed in detail at the hearing test appointment.
Completely in the Canal (CIC)
Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids are slightly larger than the IIC hearing aids as they do not sit as deep in the ear canal. They are also only battery operated at this time. Completely in the canal hearing aids are an excellent choice for most degrees of hearing loss and are ideal for patients looking for a discreet hearing solution with no portion behind the ear.
In the Canal (ITC)
In-the-Canal (ITC) hearing aids are suitable for mild-to-severe hearing losses and fill the outer portion of the canal. They are not deeply seated in the ear canal and use a larger battery than the completely-in-the-canal or invisible-in-the-canal hearing aids, making them a better option for patients who have dexterity issues but prefer a custom solution. They are available in a battery operated or rechargeable model.
In the Ear (ITE)
In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids are the largest of the custom hearing aid models and do not sit deep in the ear canal. They fill the entire outer ear of the ear canal and are suitable for all degrees of hearing loss. They are most often recommended when patients have extreme dexterity issues. They are available in a battery operated or rechargeable model.