Hearing Aid Styles
Choosing the right hearing aid style for those with hearing loss can be a long and confusing process. It doesn’t need to be. Our desire is for you to better understand the differences and subsequently have a more engaged and beneficial conversation with your hearing specialist or audiologist when you discuss the style of hearing aid that will best accommodate your lifestyle.
Be sure to visit our Patient Support page which gives you a wealth of information regarding hearing aid care, a comparison of our Premium, Advanced, and Standard hearing aids, and a video library explaining how to wear and care for your hearing aids.
Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids
Receiver-in-canal or RIC hearing aids are smaller in appearance than BTE or behind-the-ear hearing aids. The difference is that the receiver is in the ear canal. Instead of a tube, a small wire connects the hearing aid to the earpiece that allows a better sound that has more clarity due to the placement of the speaker in the ear. RIC hearing aids have features such as directional microphones, noise reduction, telecoil and Bluetooth capabilities.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
Behind-the-Ear or BTE hearing aids sit behind or on top of the outer ear with tubing that routes sounds down into the ear. The tubing connects to an ear tip or earmold to secure them in the ear canal. BTE hearing aids are visible from the outside and come in colors to blend with hair or skin tones. Different BTE hearing aid sizes accommodate different features, controls, battery types and degrees of power (larger instruments generally have more power than smaller ones). BTE hearing aids have features such as directional microphones, noise reduction, telecoil and Bluetooth capabilities.
In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
ITE or in-the-ear hearing aids are full shell models that are positioned flush with the outer ear bowl. They are usually custom-fit, based on a cast or impression of the ear made by your hearing specialist. They’re available in different skin tones to camouflage with the outer ear. They are visible inside the ear, but because they’re larger sized hearing aids, they can fit a larger receiver with enough power for some severe hearing loss, can offer more features such as directional microphones which require space on the outer portion of the hearing aid, better power and improved battery life, compared to other in the ear devices that are smaller such as the IIC, ITC and CIC. They fit mild to severe hearing loss.
In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids
ITC or in-the-canal hearing aids sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl making them comfortable and easy to use. They are visible from the outside. Because they’re slightly larger than CIC hearing aids, they have a longer battery life and offer additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments, and volume controls. They fit mild and moderate hearing loss.
Invisible In-the-Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids
The smallest custom style, IIC or in-the-canal hearing aids sit invisibly in or past the second bend of the ear canal. IIC hearing aids are specifically designed for mild to moderate hearing loss. Hearing specialists typically do not recommend IIC’s for elderly hearing aid wearers.
Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
A CIC or completely-in-canal hearing aid is simlar in appearance to the in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aid. The difference is that the CIC hearing aid fits just inside the aperture of the ear canal. The IIC hearing aid extends to the second bend of the ear canal. The CIC hearing aid style fits deeply and entirely within the ear canal. A CIC hearing aid is suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss and offers high cosmetic appeal because it’s nearly invisible when worn. Because the CIC is so small, the number of features is usually limited, i.e., lack of space for directional microphones.