Hearing aids improve mild to moderate hearing loss and provide crisper, clearer hearing. While all hearing aids use the same basic parts to carry and enhance sound, numerous hearing aid styles are available. Understanding the difference between hearing aids styles helps you determine which is right for you.
Because most hearing aid styles use the same or similar parts, one of the main differences to consider is the size of the device. In general, a larger hearing aid will have a longer battery life and may feature additional controls but are less discreet. Learn more about some of the most popular hearing aid styles.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids rest behind your ears and hook over the top part of your ears. The hearing aid is connected to a custom earpiece with a tube. This earpiece is referred to as an earmold and is designed to fit snuggly and comfortably within the ear canal. Earmolds are lightweight, making them comfortable to wear all day.
BTE hearing aids are used for various types of hearing loss and are suitable for just about anyone. These hearing aids are one of the larger types of hearing aids, so they may be slightly more noticeable. Despite this, newer streamlined designs are being introduced that are more inconspicuous.
In general, BTE hearing aids have directional microphones and are capable of significant sound amplification. In some models, a BTE hearing aid may also come with a rechargeable battery. Because BTE hearing aids can provide significant sound amplification, they may pick up additional noise.
One benefit of BTE hearing aids is they often have larger batteries with longer battery life. Because BTE hearing aids are larger, they are often more durable, too. Many BTEs are quick to fit, allowing you to take them home the same day.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids come in two main styles — full-shell ITE hearing aids and half-shell ITE hearing aids. Full-shell hearing aids fill most portions of the outer ear that are bowl-shaped. Half-shell hearing aids only fill the lower part of this area.
Each ITE hearing aid style can help those with mild to severe hearing impairment and loss. ITE hearing aids feature directional microphones and might be easier to handle for some users with their larger size. A larger battery ensures a longer life, and certain models may have a rechargeable battery.
ITE hearing aids often have unique features that certain smaller hearing aid styles may not have, including volume control. It is important to note the speaker can sometimes become blocked due to earwax, but this can be cleaned and corrected quickly.
ITE hearing aids can be customized to perfectly fit the shape of your ear for a comfortable, secure fit. ITE hearing aids are one of the largest custom styles, meaning they may be slightly more noticeable if you are looking for an inconspicuous hearing aid. They are made of lightweight plastic and custom-designed to be aesthetically appealing, though.
Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids are also commonly referred to as receiver-in-the-ear (RIE) hearing aids. A RIC hearing aid is similar to BTE styles, with the receiver or speaker sitting on the ear canal. Instead of tubing, RIC hearing aids have a small wire connecting the casing behind the ear to the receiver or speaker.
RIC hearing aids often feature a more inconspicuous design for the portion of the system that sits behind the ears. RIC allows for manual control and also uses directional microphones. Some styles of RIC hearing aids may feature a rechargeable battery.
This hearing aid style can be quickly fitted and is often recommended for first-time hearing aid users because it is small and discreet. It’s important to note RIC hearing aids may be prone to becoming clogged because of earwax or moisture.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are custom-created and molded to fit partly within the ear canal. ITC hearing aids help improve moderate hearing loss. An ITC hearing aid may be less noticeable than certain larger hearing aid styles.
ITC hearing aids can be fitted with features that typically can’t fit in completely-in-the-canal hearing aids. These settings and features may require a nimble finger to adjust but often feature controls for memory and volume.
While this hearing aid style is the second-largest custom option, it’s still considered aesthetically appealing.
Typically, an ITC hearing aid also uses smaller batteries, requiring more frequent charging than certain models. If you have an ITC hearing aid, you will also want to pay attention to possible moisture damage or earwax buildup, which inhibits sound quality.
Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids can be molded to rest inside the ear canal, improving mild to moderate hearing loss. CIC hearing aids are one of the smallest and least visible types of hearing aids, meaning they often don’t feature additional controls, like a volume control setting.
A CIC hearing aid is also less likely to pick up background noise, such as wind. Because CIC hearing aids are very small, they often use smaller batteries, meaning they have a shorter battery life before needing to be recharged. Like other designs, CIC hearing aids may be susceptible to clogging from earwax.
Because of its discreet and inconspicuous design, the only part of the hearing aid that shows outside the ear canal is a tiny removal handle.
Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids are one of the most discreet hearing aid designs and rest in the second bend of the canal, making them incredibly inconspicuous. Invisible hearing aids can be customized to perfectly fit the shape of the wearer’s ears for added stability, but it’s worth noting that IIC hearing aids don’t fit short or differently-shaped ear canals well.
While the small size of these hearing aids is excellent for those looking for an inconspicuous hearing aid, they may be somewhat challenging for those with dexterity issues. Invisible hearing aids also use smaller batteries, meaning they need routine charging. Due to the small size, IIC hearing aids can’t accommodate memory or volume controls. They are more suitable for individuals with moderate rather than severe hearing loss.
At Beltone, we understand the importance of hearing and baseline hearing tests to assess your auditory health. We provide innovative hearing services, including hearing aid consultations, financing and hearing aid repairs. Our team of experts can help you find the solution you need to regain crisp, clear hearing.