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What Are the Main Styles of Hearing Aids?

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a hearing specialist helping his patient select new hearing aids

Hearing aids are one of the common ways that an audiologist will treat hearing loss, and they can help to improve the quality of your life. However, there is a lot to think about when it comes to hearing aids, and there are different styles that can help you to better improve your hearing as well as considering your lifestyle and comfort. An audiologist will be in the best possible position to advise you on the type of hearing aid style that you could consider.

In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids

An ITC hearing aid is custom molded and fits comfortably in the ear canal. It can come in different variations, including invisible in canal (IIC) and completely in canal (CIC). This style can treat mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

An ITC hearing aid:

  • The most discreet option
  • May be more difficult to handle if you have problems with small components.
  • Fits snugly in the canal, providing the wearer with a natural listening experience.

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids

An ITE hearing aid is slightly larger than the ITC varieties and rests in the outer ear bowl – available in both half and full shell styles. This style of hearing aid is helpful for people with mild-to-moderately-severe hearing loss.

An ITE hearing aid:

  • May be easier to handle for individuals with dexterity issues.
  • Uses a larger battery for longer battery life, with several options for rechargeable batteries.
  • Comes in skin and hair tones to allow for blending.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids

A BTE hearing aid hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear. A tube connects the hearing aid to a custom earpiece called an earmold that fits in your ear canal. This type is appropriate for people of all ages and those with almost any type of hearing loss.

A BTE hearing aid:

  • Traditionally has been the largest type of hearing aid, though some newer mini designs are streamlined and barely visible.
  • Has directional microphones.
  • Is capable of more amplification than are other styles.
  • May be available with a rechargeable battery.

Many factors will be considered when selecting a hearing aid. Your audiologist will talk with you about your lifestyle, budget and aesthetic preferences, while also considering the severity of your hearing loss. Certain hobbies like running and swimming may necessitate one style over another. 

When choosing your hearing aid, you also want to consider how easy the various styles are to maintain, ensuring you’ll be able to keep up with a regular cleaning routine once you have your devices. You will also be educated on how to properly insert and remove your hearing aids, as well as changing the batteries and using the different features.


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