Hearing Aid Styles and Types

There is a vast range of hearing aids available, enough to make your head spin. However, all of them usually fall within just a few types or styles. Each hearing aid type has different strengths and weaknesses and differing suitability for different people. The question is which is the best for you? Let's explore the different types including the pros and cons of each one and hopefully, the info will make choosing a hearing aid type an easier decision. 

The Three Main Hearing Aid Styles

There are three main hearing aid types that everything else falls within, they are as follows:

  • BTE Hearing Aids; These devices are worn with the hearing aid on top of and behind the ear. All of the parts are in the case at the back of the ear, and they are joined to the ear canal with a sound tube and a custom mould or tip. 

  • ITE Hearing Aids: These are custom-made devices, all of the electronics sit in a device that fits in your ear, they come in many sizes including CIC (completely in Canal) and IIC (Invisible in Canal).

  • RIC RITE Hearing Aids: These devices are similar in concept to BTE hearing aids, with the exception that the receiver (the speaker) has been removed from the case that sits at the back of the ear. It is fitted in your ear canal or ear and connected to the case of the hearing aid with a thin wire. 

 

 

Within those three overall categories there are the following hearing aid model types:

  • IIC (Invisible In Canal)

  • CIC (Completely In Canal)

  • MIC (Mini In Canal)

  • MIH (Microphone In Helix, only available from Resound and Beltone)

  • ITE (In The Ear), could be half shell or full shell

  • BTE (Behind The Ear, can be Mini, Standard or Power)

  • RIC (Receiver In Canal)

  • RITE (Receiver In The Ear, just another name for RIC)

Bluetooth Hearing Aids, Wireless Versus Non-Wireless Hearing Aids

Wireless communication between hearing aids and between hearing aids and other accessory devices has been a game changer for people who wear hearing aids. Not just has it made it easier for people to enjoy their TV, phone calls and group situations, the wireless communication has also enabled jaw-dropping features in the hearing aids that deliver a much better experience for their users. 

 

Receiver-in-canal (RIC)

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Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids sit behind the ear and deliver sound directly into the ear. This is because the receiver is located outside of the hearing aid itself and instead inside ear canal. The hearing aid and receiver are connected by a discreet ‘receiver wire’ which houses an electrical cable.

The typical lifespan of a size 10 battery is between 3-5 days, size 312 battery between 5-7 days and size 13 battery between 10-14 days but this can vary depending upon the number of hours per day the hearing aid is worn, the severity of hearing loss and the technology level of hearing aid.

Benefits

  • A more natural and crisper sound quality given the receiver is located inside the ear canal.

  • Can often be more discreet and invisible than custom invisible-in-canal (IIC)and completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids.

  • Different receiver power levels can be fitted and therefore suitable for even profound hearing losses.

  • The ability to change receiver power levels means the hearing aid is somewhat ‘future-proof’ if your hearing deteriorates.

  • Different ear domes can be fitted to the receiver inside the ear making them suitable for a variety of types of hearing losses.

  • Dual-microphones help to improve speech understanding in noise.

  • Wireless and telecoil options.

 

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

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As the name suggests, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids sit behind the ear and deliver sound into the ear either via ‘sound tube’. The sound tube can either be 2mm diameter acoustic tubing channelled through a custom-made earmould, or a discreet ‘thin-tube’ attached to an ear dome or custom-made micro-mould which fits inside the ear canal.

The typical lifespan of a size 10 battery is between 3-5 days, size 312 battery between 5-7 days and size 13 battery between 10-14 days but this can vary depending upon the number of hours per day the hearing aid is worn, the severity of hearing loss and the technology level of hearing aid.

Benefits

  • BTE hearing aids with thin-tubes can often be more discreet and invisible than custom invisible-in-canal (IIC) and completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids.

  • Very powerful so suitable for profound hearing losses

  • Different ear domes and earmoulds can be fitted making them suitable for a variety of types of hearing losses.

  • Dual-microphones help to improve speech understanding in noise.

  • Wireless and telecoil options.

 

In-the-ear

(ITE)

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In-the-canal (ITE) hearing aids are the largest of all custom hearing aids. They are designed and sculptured to fit either half your external ear (cavum concha) or the entire external ear (cavum and cymba concha). Extraction cords can be fitted to ITE hearing aids to help insert and remove them from the ear.

The typical lifespan of a size 13 battery is between 10-14 days, but this can vary depending upon the number of hours per day the hearing aid is worn, the severity of hearing loss and the technology level of hearing aid.

Benefits

  • Very powerful and can be suitable for profound hearing losses.

  • Ideal for somebody who has limited dexterity and reduced vision.

  • Dual-microphones help to improve speech understanding in noise.

  • Wireless and telecoil options

  • Increased surface area means they are less likely to:

    • feedback (e.g. whistle) due to acoustic leakage

    • work loose whilst talking and chewing, especially if you have a straight and inclined ear canal shape.