Styles of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are available in a wide range of styles for every type of hearing loss. Your hearing care professional will recommend a style for you based upon your level of hearing loss and lifestyle. These are the most common styles:

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In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids

The In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids are a good option if you want an easy-to-handle device. They come in different sizes and are typically worn in the bowl of the ear.

In-The-Canal (ITC)

The In-The-Canal (ITC) hearing aids are small and discreet with the housing sitting in the ear canal. This style can improve mild to moderate hearing loss in adults.

Advantages

  • discreet
  • longer battery life and more features than IIC and CIC styles
  • All one piece — no external parts or tubing

Disadvantages

  • small size can be a problem for connecting to wireless devices
Completely-In-Canal (CIC)

The Completely-In-Canal hearing aids are designed to fit in the ear canal. The only part of the hearing aid that is seen outside the canal is the small clear handle part of the device, which is used to insert and remove the device.

It improves mild to moderate hearing loss in adults.

Advantages

  • very discreet
  • good sound quality because of how they fit within the ear
  • All one piece — no external parts or tubing

Disadvantages

  • small size can be a problem for people with dexterity issues
  • can be a problem for wireless connectivity
Invisible-In-Canal (IIC)

The Invisible-In-Canal hearing aids are the smallest type of hearing aid and they fit further in the canal than other styles. They are meant to be invisible, but results can vary depending on the anatomy of your ear.

Advantages

  • very discreet
  • good sound quality because of how they fit within the ear
  • All one piece — no external parts or tubing

Disadvantages

  • small size can be a problem for people with dexterity issues
  • can be a problem for wireless connectivity

Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids

This is traditionally the most powerful style of hearing aid which hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear. A tube connects the hearing aid to a custom ear mold. The Behind-The-Ear hearing aid is appropriate for people of all ages and those with any type of hearing loss.

Advantages

  • Fits all degrees of hearing loss, including profound hearing loss
  • Usually available in models with wireless connectivity to devices
  • Manual controls (e.g. volume) optional

Disadvantages

  • Due to the oils in your skin, the tubing and mold will need to be changed more often
  • Not as cosmetically hidden

Receiver-In-Canal (RIC)

The Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) hearing aids are similar to Behind-The-Ear hearing aids with the speaker or receiver that sits in the ear canal. This style has a tiny wire, rather than tubing that connects the piece behind the ear to the receiver.

Advantages

  • Comfortable and fairly discreet
  • Wireless connectivity to devices like phones
  • Telecoil options are common

Disadvantages

  • The microphone and sound processor that sit behind the ear is visible
  • May not fit all degrees of hearing loss without custom mold

CROS & Bi-CROS Systems

CROS hearing aids do not have their own size or shape so much as they have a specific function. They are meant for people who have hearing loss in one ear so severe that hearing aids can’t help, but they have normal hearing in the other ear. The hearing aid on the ear that has profound hearing loss feeds the sound it picks up into the aid in your non-aidable ear.

BiCROS hearing aids are similar but meant for people whose other ear does have some hearing loss. In this case, the one CROS hearing aid feeds sound to another hearing aid on your other side, which itself is used to receive and amplify sound for that ear.

Both CROS and BiCROS hearing aids are available in both In-The-Ear (ITE) and Behind-The-Ear (BTE) styles.

What Style Is Best For Me?

The style of hearing aid that will work best for you will depend on your level of hearing loss and your lifestyle. Your hearing care professional will be able to recommend which style of hearing aid would suit you best after performing a hearing test.

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