Hearing aids come in a variety of styles. With today’s technology, we can fit most types of hearing loss with any type of hearing aid. However, there are significant advantages and disadvantages of each style, depending on the hearing loss.
MINI BEHIND THE EAR (RIC/MINI-BTE/OPEN-FIT)
The mini behind-the-ear style hearing aid is today’s most popular style. It is available in a variety of forms, but the version that we dispense most often is called a receiver-in-the-canal or RIC style. The microphone, battery, and processor are placed behind the ear and the actual speaker is placed inside the ear, connected to the behind-the-ear portion by a small wire. This style of hearing aid is sometimes referred to as an “open-fit” hearing aid, because it allows natural sound to enter into the ear canal by not plugging up the ear with the hearing device.
COMPLETELY IN THE CANAL (CIC)
The completely-in-the-canal style hearing aid is very small, with the entire hearing aid fitting in the ear canal. Because of this, there is limited space for the hearing aid components and parts. There is no room for telecoils, directional microphones, or large batteries. This style of hearing aid is sometimes uncomfortable to some users, because it often rests deeper inside the ear canal as compared to other styles.
IN THE CANAL (ITC)
The in-the-canal style hearing fills up a portion of the ear canal and the lower portion of the bowl of the ear. This style is often a good compromise between the appearance of a CIC and the features of an ITC. It is often large enough to accompodate a directional microphone and larger battery size.
IN THE EAR (ITE)
The in-the-ear style hearing aid fills most of the bowl of the ear. This style is large enough to accomodate directional microphones, larger amplifiers (for more severe hearing losses), and telecoils. This style is also very easy to insert and remove, this style is frequenty chosen if dexterity is a concern.
BEHIND THE EAR (BTE)
The behind-the-ear style of hearing aid rests on the top/back of the ear and uses a tube and custom-shaped mold to channel the sound into the ear. This style is very common among people with very severe hearing losses, because it can accomodate a very large amplifier and uses a larger sized battery. It is also used with children. As a child’s ear grows, only the mold needs to be replaced, which is considerably less expensive than replacing the entire hearing aid.