Styles and Types of Hearing Aids

Choosing the right style and type of hearing aid for those with hearing loss can be confusing. We break down them down for you, with acronyms, for better understanding and to give you a headstart when you have the conversation with your hearing specialist on the best one for you and your lifestyle. Make sure to review our TruHearing Hearing Aid Benefit Program. You may be entitled to significant discounts through your insurance company. On our Patient Support page, we offer a wealth of information regarding Hearing Aid Care and a comparison of our Premium, Advanced, Essential, and Basic hearing aids in addition to videos that will explain how to wear and care for them.

BTE hearing aid


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 – even chrome and leopard print colors. Different BTE hearing aid sizes accommodate different features, controls, battery types and degrees of power (larger instruments generally have more power than smaller ones). While many people choose discreet BTEs that are unnoticeable when worn (behind hair), others are tempted to show off the cool designs. BTE hearing aids are worn by people of all ages. For young children, BTEs are preferred for growth and safety reasons.

RIC hearing aid

Receiver-in-Canal (RIC)

Receiver-in-canal or RIC hearing aids are similar in appearance to 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.

ITE hearing aid

In-the-Ear (ITE) or Full Shell

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. Because of their flexibility, they’re widely recommended for mild to severe hearing loss.

IIC hearing aids

Invisible In-The-Canal (IIC)

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.

CIC & IIC hearing aids

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC)

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 is the smallest custom hearing aid style and 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.

ITC hearing aid

In-the-Canal (ITC)

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.