Hearing Aid Styles
Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles. Each style has its own advantages and limitations. Selecting a style that is right for you depends on several factors:
The severity of your hearing loss
The size and shape of your ear
Your personal preferences
How well you can use your fingers and hands (manual dexterity)
The availability of new hearing aid technologies
Behind-the-Ear Hearing Instruments
All parts of these aids also called BTE's are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear. The case is connected to an ear mould that fits the whole or part of the ear shell by a piece of clear tubing, or may be connected to a thin tube that takes the sound into the ear canal (open fitting).
This style is often chosen for young children for safety and growth reasons.
Receiver-in-Canal Hearing Instruments
These hearing instruments look very similar to BTE instruments but have a unique difference: the speaker of the hearing aid is placed inside the ear canal and thin electrical wires replace the clear plastic acoustic tube of the BTE instrument.
These instruments also offer cosmetic and listening advantages and very discreet. It is designed to separate the microphone and receiver in order to lessen feedback (whistling), which makes them suitable for patients with severe hearing loss.
In-the-Ear Hearing Instruments
All parts of In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing instruments are contained in a shell that fills the outer part of the ear fully or partially. ITE hearing instruments are larger than ITC instruments and may be easier to handle than smaller hearing aids.
In-the-Canal Hearing Instruments
In-the-Canal (ITC) are hearing aids that are contained in a tiny case that fits partly in the outer part of the ear. It is smaller than ITE's and offer some cosmetic and listening advantages.
Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Instrument
Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing instruments fit entirely in the ear canal and are nearly invisible when worn. The size and shape of the ear canal influences how discreet the final fitting will be and some people's ear canals may be too narrow to allow for such a small fitting.
These instruments offer some listening and acoustic advantages but do not always offer all of the state-of-the-art technologies available, due to the size limitation of their discreet design.
Invisible-in-the-Canal Hearing Instrument
These are very small, very deep-fitting hearing aids for mild to moderate hearing loss. They may even be completely invisible when worn. The size and shape of the ear canal is a definite determining factor for this particular style. Only a small portion of the general population will have ample ear canal volume to allow for such a discreet fitting as required by these instruments.