Types of Hearing Aids
There are many different styles of hearing aids. The degree of the hearing loss, individual lifestyle, size and shape of ear canal, manual dexterity abilities, cost factors, and cosmetic concerns are all factors that will help to determine which style of hearing aid is best for you. The devices can be grouped under the following categories:
Behind-The-Ear hearing aids are the largest hearing aids and they are very reliable and durable. The devices come in a mini BTE option or standard BTE option. BTEs have the most circuit options and they have more power than any of the custom made in the ear units. BTEs rest on the back of the ear, and are connected to the ear canal via a tube that is part of an earmold. The earmold is custom made from an ear impression (accurate replica of the ear canal). BTEs have all the components behind the ear, which make them less susceptible to damage from ear wax and moisture. This style may be connected to a wireless communication system for the phone, TV, computer, in order to hear better in noisy situations, etc. Individuals with a wide range of hearing losses, from mild to severe, can be fit with BTE hearing aids.
In-The-Ear units are the largest custom made style, and fit completely in the outer ear. The device is easy to operate. ITEs can be used by people who have a mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
In-The-Canal units fit in the ear canal. These require good dexterity to control the volume wheels and other controls on the faceplate. They are smaller than ITEs. ITCs can only be used by people who have mild to moderate hearing loss.
Completely-In-the-Canal units are the smallest hearing aids. They require a "removal string" due to their small size because they fit so deep into the ear canal. CICs do not have manual controls attached to them, nor can they be used with certain accessories due to their small size. The battery life for this style is short because the battery is so small. CICs are most appropriate for individuals with a mild hearing loss.
Open Fit Behind-the-Ear
Open-Fit Behind-the-Ear hearing aids are very reliable. These devices are available in a mini BTE option or standard BTE option. Open-Fit BTEs rest on the back of your ear, and are connected to the ear canal via a thin tube. There is no custom piece that fits into the ear canal. The thin tube allows for a more natural sound quality, eliminating occlusion. BTEs have all the components behind the ear, which make them less susceptible damage from ear wax and moisture. This is one of the most cosmetically appealing hearing aids. These devices are appropriate for people with normal to near normal hearing in the low pitches, and a mild to moderately severe hearing loss in the high pitches.
RITE hearing aids come in a standard or mini BTE option. These devices rest on the back of the ear and a thin tube leads down to the receiver. The receiver is covered by a non-custom dome or custom earmold and sits inside the ear canal. The receiver sitting inside the ear canal allows people with more severe hearing losses to wear a more cosmetically appealing device and also reduces feedback. The receiver can typically be changed in the office if it needs repair. These instruments are appropriate for people with mild to severe hearing loss.