Hearing Aid Styles

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A wide range of technology and a host of features are available in each hearing aid style.

The cost of hearing aids generally depends on the technology and the number of features the instrument has and not necessarily on the style selected. Today's digital hearing aids are typically offered in various levels such as basic or entry-level to advanced or premium-level. Within each level, different technology and features are available.

Basic digital hearing aids generally require the wearer to make some manual adjustments in certain listening environments such as turning a volume control up or down, or pushing a button to change listening programs. In contrast, a premium or more advanced hearing aid responds more automatically to changes in the listener's environment, making changes based on the signals being detected by the hearing aid. The hearing aid wearer is not required to make as many manual changes. In some cases with the wearer may not have to make any manual changes at all. As the level of the technology increases in hearing aids, so does the availability of advanced features.

When selecting a style the following is considered:

  • The degree of the hearing loss (power requirements)
  • Manual dexterity & visual abilities
  • Patient budget
  • Cosmetics
  • Skin sensitivities
  • Anatomical/medical considerations
  • Lifestyle needs

Styles of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are available in many different sizes and styles thanks to advancements in digital technology and miniaturization of the internal components. Many of today's hearing aids are considered sleek, compact, and innovative - offering solutions to a wide range of hearing aid wearers.

In-The-Ear Styles

Hearing aids worn in the ear are usually custom-fit, based on a cast or impression of the ear. They’re available in different skin tones to camouflage with the outer ear. There are several styles – each is listed below, ranging from smallest to largest.

Invisible - In the Canal

Invisible In the Canal (IIC)

The smallest custom style, IIC instruments sit almost invisibly in or past the second bend of the ear canal. IIC are specifically designed for mild to moderate hearing loss. Not all hearing losses or ear canal sizes are appropriate for this choice.

Completely In The Canal

Completely In the Canal (CIC)

Among the smaller custom style products, CIC instruments fit deeply and entirely within the ear canal for most people. They fit mild to moderate hearing losses and offer high cosmetic appeal because they can be worn very discreetly.

ITC - In The Canal

In the Canal (ITC)

ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because they’re slightly larger than CIC models, they have a longer battery life, and can host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments, and controls such as volume controls. They fit mild and moderate hearing losses.

Half-Shell Hearing Aids

Half Shell (HS)

Half shell models fill half the bowl of the outer ear. Like ITC models, their 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 their size, they may be easier than smaller models to handle for some people and yet are still often disguised by hairstyles or sideburns. This hearing aid style looks similar to the ITC hearing aid when worn on the ear, but is slightly larger.

Full Shell Hearing Aids

Full Shell or In the Ear

Full shell models sit flush within the outer ear bowl. Their 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 than the smaller styles, and can fit a larger receiver with enough power for even some severe hearing losses. Because of their flexibility, they’re widely recommended for mild to severe hearing loss.

Behind The Ear Styles

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) models sit behind or on top of the outer ear, with tubing that routes sounds down into the ear that connects to an ear tip or earmold to secure them in the ear canal. BTEs come in colors to blend with hair or skin tones, and even chrome colors, leopard print and other funky designs to suit personal styles. Different BTE sizes accommodate different features, controls, battery types and degrees of power (larger instruments generally have more power than smaller ones). While many people choose discreet BTEs that are unnoticeable when worn, others are tempted to show off the cool designs.

Mini BTE

Mini BTE with Slim Tube and Tip

The smallest custom style, IIC instruments sit almost invisibly in or past the second bend of the ear canal. IIC are specifically designed for mild to moderate hearing loss. Not all hearing losses or ear canal sizes are appropriate for this choice.

Receiver in the Canal (RIC)

Among the smaller custom style products, CIC instruments fit deeply and entirely within the ear canal for most people. They fit mild to moderate hearing losses and offer high cosmetic appeal because they can be worn very discreetly.

BTE with Earmold

BTE with Earmold

ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because they’re slightly larger than CIC models, they have a longer battery life, and can host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments, and controls such as volume controls. They fit mild and moderate hearing losses.

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