There are a variety of hearing aid styles, and each style has its own advantages and limitations. Selecting a hearing aid style that is right for you will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of your hearing loss, the size and shape of your ear, your dexterity level, and lifestyle.
Behind The Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
BTE a.k.a. Behind -the- Ear hearing aids fit comfortably right behind the ear and are connected to an ear mold in the ear by a short plastic tube. A custom ear mold can be 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. BTEs are used for a variety of hearing losses, including mild to profound hearing loss. Because the components are housed outside of the ear, they tend to be the most durable. BTE hearing aids commonly need less repairs and have a longer life expectancy. They can be worn easily, even by people who wear eyeglasses. BTE hearing aids can also be easily connected to assistive listening devices, such as FM systems, to directly integrate sound sources with the instrument.
Receiver in the Ear (RITE) or Open Fit BTE Hearing Aids
RITE a.k.a. Receiver- in- the- Ear hearing aids are housed in a miniature case that fits over or behind your ear with or without a custom-fitted ear mold. The open ear hearing aid consists of a miniature BTE hearing aid device coupled to an ultra thin tube with a soft rubber tip that fits in the ear. This hearing aid style is appropriate for people with a wide range of hearing losses, from mild to profound. This type of hearing aid is often cosmetically appealing due to its small size. For those with milder to moderate losses, this type of device helps in reducing complaints related to feeling “plugged up” or sounding as if they’re speaking “in a barrel.”
Completely in the Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
CIC a.k.a. Completely –in- Canal hearing aids are custom designed and fit fairly deeply, while comfortable, into the ear canal. Cosmetically, this hearing aid style is small and therefore cosmetically appealing. However, it is not suitable for all types and degrees of hearing loss. The battery life for this style is rather short because the battery is quite small. The hearing aid’s size can also make it difficult to manipulate, particularly for people who have trouble with finger and hand dexterity. 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.
In the Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
ITE a.k.a. In the Ear hearing aids are custom designed and fill 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 lightweight. ITE hearing aids are usually for people who have mild to moderately severe hearing loss. ITE hearing aids are easier to manipulate since they are larger than other hearing aid styles.
Half Shell (HS) Hearing Aids
HS a.k.a. Half Shell hearing aids are larger than CIC aids, but smaller than ITE aids. They may offer better background noise suppression than CIC aids, but are more cosmetically appealing than ITE aids due to their smaller size.