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What Are The Most Common Hearing Aid Types?

pile of hearing aids held by woman

Hearing loss is one of the top three most common chronic conditions in the U.S. It is twice as likely that an individual in the U.S. would experience hearing loss over cancer or diabetes. Hearing aids can significantly improve hearing and protect your hearing for longer. 30 percent of people report an improvement in their hearing within as little as 6 months or less when using a hearing aid for the first time.

There are many different hearing aid types to suit many different lifestyles. Read on to find out more about the most common hearing aid types. Your ENT doctor will help you consider the best hearing aid for your needs.

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids

ITE hearing aids sit in the ear canal and are often custom made. Your ENT doctor may use a mold to take an impression of your ear, which will then be taken away and made into your hearing aid. Depending on the type of hearing loss, the hearing aid may fit quite far into the ear canal or sit closer to the outside of the ear bowl.

The design of these hearing aids is often very discrete, with several skin shades available to ensure it blends in as much as possible. There are also full-shell (fits in the entire ear bowl), for more severe forms of hearing loss, or half shell, which sits snugly in the bottom half of the ear bowl.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids

BTE hearing aids often sit behind or on top of the ear, with a transparent tube that relays sound to the ear canal. BTE hearing aids can be discrete, to match hair or skin tone, or come in a variety of unique designs if you want to show them off. BTEs come in different sizes depending on the battery size and power required. All the mechanics of the device are present at the top of the ear.

These are the two standard types of hearing aids, and come with batteries which may need to be replaced every few days or weeks. These two types can be further broken down into different categories.

Invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids 

This type of hearing aid refers to ITE hearing aids which are invisible from the outside of the ear. The hearing aid is not placed in the outside bend of the ear, but the second bend. This sits snugly in the ear and improves the sound quality of an individual’s own voice. They are the smallest type of hearing aid available.

In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids

This form of ITE hearing aid sits in the ear canal, on the outside bend of the ear. This is visible externally, and is slightly larger than the IIC model. The benefits of the larger model are that more custom features can be applied, such as better volume control. These are also better if you need a model that is easier to use. This is particularly useful if you require support with dexterity.

Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids

These models are somewhere between the IIC and ITC models, and sit partially in the ear canal. These are smaller than the ITC hearing aids but bigger than the IICs, and are among the smallest hearing aid models out there. These models are not completely invisible like the IIC but do not fully sit on the outer bend of the ear like ITC models.

Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids

RIC hearing aids are a BTE hearing aid. However, unlike traditional BTE models, the speaker is located at the base of the tube that runs into the ear canal. Whereas a standard BTE contains the mechanical workings for the hearing aid in the device on top of the ear, the speaker for this model is present in a separate part that sits in the ear canal.

Things to consider with hearing aids

There are several different things to consider when looking at hearing aids:

  • The shape of the ear: Each ear has its own shape, and may be larger or smaller in size, with distinct contours. 
  • The severity of the condition: Severe hearing loss may require a device with more features, and therefore may be slightly larger than the smaller models.
  • Handling: If you have some additional dexterity needs, some larger devices are easier to handle than others.
  • Lifestyle: If you lead an active lifestyle or engage in particular sports, this could influence the type of hearing aid you wear.

Your ENT doctor will talk you through your options and help you make informed decisions about your hearing aid.

At ENT Physicians, Inc, we are experts in all hearing aid types. With decades of expertise, we’re confident we can help you find the right hearing aid to help manage your hearing loss. Talk to us by calling 419-776-5028 for friendly advice from our team today.