Related Help Pages: Hearing aids

Know the distinctions between hearing device styles

There are many different styles of hearing aids based on the physical shape and position within the ear. Before going to see an audiologist, it may be helpful to have knowledge of the basic functions and components of specific devices for hearing loss.

hearing aids, bte, ite, canal, hearing aid types, hearing aid featuresIn-the-canal (ITC)

This custom-molded device fits into the ear canal with a smaller profile than the ITE device, but it is larger than CIC and IIC models. Individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss may be given this hearing aid; however, it doesn't tend to fit well in smaller ears. Because of its small size, some people may have difficulty adjusting its features, but it is easy to use with telephone features.

Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)

CIC models are made to fit directly into the ear canal and are ideal for people suffering from mild to moderate hearing loss. The only visible part of the instrument is a small handle-like protrusion that helps users insert and remove the device with ease. CIC hearing aids are the least noticeable in the ear, and because of their small profile, they don't often pick up wind noise. However, since this device is very small, it may not have the added features and the batteries typically don't last as long.

In-the-ear (ITE)

Ideal for people with mild to severe hearing loss, ITE hearing aids are custom made and fill much of the outside of the ear. Often called a full-shell hearing aid, these devices are usually easy to put in and take out of the ear, and their large size makes it possible to contain helpful, easy-to-adjust features such as volume control. The bigger profile also allows for larger batteries that last longer.

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

BTE hearing aids are applicable for people of all ages and nearly all different types of hearing loss. This is the biggest and most visible device because it hooks over the ear, but it is capable of louder amplification and is considered the most powerful device available. Some models have an earmold and others have small tubing that fits into the ear.

Invisible-in-canal (IIC)

Best for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss, the IIC device is custom-fitted to go further inside the ear canal so that it is invisible to others. The deep microphone and placement of the receiver help to avoid wind noise. This device should be taken out daily for good ear health.

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