The main categories of hearing aid styles are custom aids vs. BTE (Behind-the-Ear) aids. There are multiple styles of custom aids ranging in size from large to small. They include the ITE (In-the-Ear), HS (Half-shell), ITC (In-the-Canal) and CIC (Completely-in-the-Canal). The newest and smallest style available is a Micro-CIC. The general advantages and disadvantages between custom and BTE hearing aids are listed below. Plus, there are advantages and disadvantages specific to CICs, which are also described.
- Often compatible with direct audio input and wireless FM systems, which allow for improved communication in difficult listening conditions with background noise.
- Less prone to acoustic feedback (whistle) because the microphone and earmold sound port are further separated.
- May be more difficult for some people to operate controls once the BTE is in the ear because of two-piece construction with the actual hearing aid fitting behind the ear.
- Potential space limitations for people with restricted room between their ears and head due to anatomy, or the wearing of eyeglasses.
- More potential exposure of the hearing aids to environmental elements such as rain.
ITE, HS, ITC
- More comfortable because it is a single-piece instrument where the shell is custom-made to fit inside an individual's ear.
- Easier insertion and removal - manual dexterity may be less of an issue because one-piece instruments house all of the electronics.
- Highly recommended because of the wide selection of user-controlled functions available, such as directional microphones, multiple memories, and more.
- Available in skin-tone colors for more inconspicuous cosmetically pleasing appearance.
- More susceptible to cerumen (ear wax) because of the shorter distance between the electronics and the ear canal.
CIC and Micro-CIC
- Cosmetically appealing, as they are essentially unnoticeable when worn.
- Because of the microphone location (further in the canal) individuals wearing CICs can take advantage of the ear's natural sound collecting abilities. This means that the CIC is more acoustically transparent than any other model.
- No additional options such as a user-operated volume control or directional microphones are available due to its small size.
The instrument and batteries may be too small for some individuals to use comfortably.
Mail Order and Disposable Hearing Aids