Hearing Aid Styles
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles. Each style has its own advantages and limitations. Selecting a style that is right for you depends on a number of factors, including:
The severity of your hearing loss
The size and shape of your ear
Your personal preferences
How well you can use your finger and hands (manual dexterity)
The availability of new hearing aid technologies
Several different styles of hearing aids are described below:
Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids—also referred to as receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) or canal receiver technology (CRT)—are smaller than standard Behind-the-ear (BTE) models, but are easy to maneuver and can still house a variety of features. Like standard BTEs, they can be worn comfortably behind the ear. However, unlike regular BTE hearing aids, the RIC’s loudspeaker or “receiver” is located outside the housing and positioned at the end of a thin ear-wire, placed near the ear drum. Since generated sound only has to travel a very short distance with lower transmission loss, less sound energy (and battery power) is required to produce a superior listening experience.
RIC Hearing Aids are one of the most flexible types of hearing aids. Those with mild to moderate hearing loss and that are lightly to moderately active can use RICs. In recent years, there have been great advancements in add-on features such as wireless connectivity and streaming.
More than half of hearing care patients are good candidates for RIC hearing aids. If your loss is in the mild to moderately severe range and you have the ability to manipulate small objects, these hearing aids may be a good option for you.
Some advantages would be…
No “plugged up” feeling
Minimizes sounds of your own voice by allowing sounds to escape ear canal
Small, virtually unnoticeable casings
Nearly invisible tubing
Larger batteries for longer battery life
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are housed in a curved case that fits neatly and comfortably behind or over your ear. A custom ear mold is made to the exact shape of your ear. The custom ear mold is used to direct the sound from the hearing aid into your ear and to secure the hearing aid in place.
People with a wide range of hearing losses, from mild to severe, can be fitted with BTE hearing aids. Because the components are housed outside of the ear, they tend to be the most durable. BTE hearing aids need less repair and have a longer life expectancy. They can be worn easily, even by people who wear eyeglasses.
In-the-ear & In-the-canal
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are custom designed and fit directly into your ear, filling most of the visible portion of your ear. All of the components are housed within a single plastic shell. They have no external wires or tubes, and are very light in weight. When properly made, they fit comfortably and securely in the ear. The ITE hearing aid can be used by people who have mild to moderately severe hearing losses.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are custom designed, smaller in size, and fit more deeply into the ear canal than in-the-ear hearing aids. They are typically less visible than in-the-ear hearing aids. All of the components are housed within a single plastic shell. Because they are smaller in size, however, they can only be used by people who have mild to moderate hearing loss.
Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids are also custom designed. They fit the deepest into the ear canal so they are the least visible. They may also reduce the problem of wind noise and feedback on the telephone.
The battery life for this style is rather short because the battery is so small. The aid's size can also make it difficult to manipulate, particularly for people who have trouble with finger and hand dexterity (because of arthritis, for example). Additionally, due to exposure to moisture and ear wax, this style of hearing aid tends to go in for repairs more often and has a shorter overall life expectancy than the other hearing aid styles.
Fitting CIC hearing aids generally involves additional appointments and remolding the casing to get the right fit. Some people may not be candidates for CIC hearing aids because of the shape of their ear canal or the severity of their hearing loss.