Hearing Aid Styles
Hearing aids come in many different sizes and styles. Some styles are designed to fit in virtually any ear, and others require custom earmolds to personalize the fit. The question of which hearing aid is most appropriate for you will be determined by a combination of factors including lifestyle, hearing loss severity, cosmetic preferences, and budget. We will provide you with a thorough evaluation and consultation to help you determine the best solution for getting you back to better hearing. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have an idea of what your options are before you come in for your appointment.
In-the Ear Styles
Hearing aids worn in the ear are usually custom-fit, based on a cast or impression of the ear. They are available in different skin tones to blend in with the outer ear. There are several styles - each is listed below, pictured from smallest to largest
The smallest custom style, IIC instruments fit deeply in the bony portion of the ear canal, close to the eardrum. They fit mild to moderate hearing losses and offer high cosmetic appeal since they are invisible. The placement deep in the ear cuts down on wind noise. Because they fit deeply in the ear canal, the size of a person's ear canal may contraindicate use of the IIC.
Another small custom style, CIC instruments also fit deeply in the ear canal. They fit mild to moderately-severe hearing losses and offer high cosmetic appeal since they are nearly invisible when worn.
ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because they are slightly larger than CIC models, they have a longer battery life, and can accommodate additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments.
Half-shell models fill the bowl of the outer ear. Like ITC models, the half-shell size enables the addition of features such as directional microphones, volume controls, and push buttons to activate special settings for different listening environments. Because of the larger size, halfshell models may be easier to handle than smaller models.
Full shell or In-the-ear (ITE)
Full shell models sit flush within the outer ear. The size allows the maximum number of additional controls and features such as directional microphones which require space on the outer portion of the instrument. They use a larger battery size and can fit a large receiver with enough power for even severe hearing losses.
Behind-the Ear Styles
Behind-the Ear (BTE) hearing aids sit behind or on top of the outer ear, with tubing or wiring that routes sounds into the ear. The end of the tubing or wiring connects to a receiveror custom earmold to secure them in the ear canal. BTEs come in colors to blend in with the hair or skin tones. Different BTE sizes accommodate different features, controls, battery types, and degree of power.
RIC models are mini BTEs that have the speaker of the instrument incorporated into the ear tip, instead of within the main body of the hearing aid. RIC models can also accommodate open fittings that do not occlude the ear.
BTE with earmold
BTEs with earmolds fit mild through profound hearing losses. They are generally longer in shape as compared to the RIC model. In most cases, the BTE with earmold can house more features, controls, and power than custom models. The earmold color and style, and the size of the instrument itself determine how it looks on the ear.
Power BTE with earmold
BTEs with earmolds fit severe to profound hearing losses. They are generally longer in shape as compared to the BTE. The Power BTE can house more features, controls, and power than custom models.