Styles and Technology
Hearing aids can be broken down in to two main styles: those that fit behind the ear and those that fit right in the ear canal. A question I often hear is “What style is the best?” There is no right or wrong answer as what is “best” depends on a number of factors such as the hearing loss itself, lifestyle and needs of the patient, size and shape of the ear, budget, and personal preferences.
It is important to note the style does not necessarily influence the price of the hearing aid. Most people believe the smallest aid that fits deep in the ear is the most expensive but the price is actually dependent on the level of technology in the hearing aid. All hearing aids have features and abilities that are designed to help you hear. The amount of technology inside influences how well they perform and, as a result, how well you hear; one that has more features will help you hear in many more settings than a basic hearing aid with few features. Following a hearing test, we will go over the results together. If you are a candidate for hearing aids, we will explore that option and find what would work best for you.
Behind the Ear Hearing Aids: RIC & BTE
RIC or RITE: Receiver-in-the-Canal or Receiver-in-the-Ear
This is the most commonly fit hearing aid style today. They can fit a large variety of hearing losses, from mild to severe. The speaker, or receiver, is inserted into the ear canal while the main hearing aid body is behind the ear. They are very discreet and comfortable as well; most people are surprised how light and small they are.
All electronic parts of the hearing aid are in the unit that sits behind the ear. The sound travels through a tube into an earmold to reach your ear canal and eardrum. These hearing aids can have a lot of power and are recommended for severe to profound hearing losses. They are also useful for moisture and wax management as the electronic parts are not in the ear canal.
Custom Hearing Aids: ITE, ITC, CIC
Custom hearing aids are made to fit the exact measurements of your ear canal. An impression is taken in our office and sent to the manufacturer where the hearing aid is created.
ITEs fill more of the ear than other custom aids. They may have more power due to their larger size. Often they can be outfitted with larger batteries which can help ease of use, as it is easier to manipulate a larger battery and larger batteries typically last longer. The hearing aid itself is larger which can be useful if manual dexterity, as well as vision loss, is a problem
In-the-canal hearing aids are a common style of custom aids. They strike a balance between size and ease of use.
CIC: Completely-in-the-Canal and IIC: Invisible-in-the-Canal
These are among the smallest hearing aids available. They use the smallest size battery as well. They are not well suited for severe hearing losses but they are still able to fit a variety of hearing losses. They are quite discreet but they need to be cared for to ensure wax damage does not occur.