Hearing aid styles and technology can be confusing, even if you have been wearing hearing aids for years. Please keep in mind that our job as doctoral-level audiologists is to guide you through this selection process, so be sure to ask questions and take notes as you weigh your options. Hearing aids are an important investment in your health and well-being.
Technology Comes in Lots of Shapes and Styles
A common misconception is that a specific hearing aid technology can be purchased only in certain styles. The technology refers to the computer chip and signal processing that you are purchasing. The style refers to the type of shell that houses the technology. That means the smallest style isn’t necessarily the most expensive or the best.
Consider Lifestyle, Fit, and Hearing Issues
In addition, we often have patients who come to us with a preconceived idea of the hearing aid style they want, only to find out that particular hearing aid style might not be the best “fit” for them. Sometimes this is because of the patient’s anatomy – perhaps an in-the-ear hearing aid is nearly invisible, but inappropriate or uncomfortable for the patient.
Here are the most popular hearing aid styles. Many of these come in a wide range of models from world-class manufacturers such as Widex, ReSound and Lyric:
These devices look similar to the behind-the-ear hearing aid with a unique difference – the speaker of the hearing aid is placed inside the ear canal, and a thin electrical wire connects the speaker and hearing aid. These devices also offer great cosmetic and listening advantages for many adults. These can be utilized as open-fit technology.
In-the-Ear (ITE) Aids
All parts of the ITE aid are contained in a custom shell that fits in the ear canal and outer bowl portion of the ear. These devices are larger than canal aids and, for some people, may be easier to handle than smaller hearing aids.
Invisible-in-Canal (ILC), Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) and In-the-Canal (ITC)
These devices are contained in a tiny case that is custom fit partly or completely into the ear canal. They are the smallest devices available and offer some cosmetic and listening advantages. Our audiologists can determine if you are a good candidate for invisible-in-canal, in-the-canal, or completely-in-the-canal technology.
Behind-the-Ear Open-Fit Thin Tube
Open-fit technology keeps the ears open to sound, rather than plugging up the ear with the hearing aid. The pitches that you don’t need amplified travel normally through the ear canal, remaining natural and comfortable, while the pitches at which you have hearing loss are amplified. With an open fitting, sounds at the eardrum arrive directly from both the open ear and the hearing instrument through a small, thin tube.
Extended-Wear Hearing Aids
These hearing aids fit deep in the ear canal, and are designed to be worn continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for several months at a time. You can wear the device during daily activities, like exercising, showering, talking on the phone, and sleeping. These hearing aids are purchased on a yearly subscription basis. The audiologist replaces the device(s) in the clinic approximately every 120 days. This removes the need to change batteries and perform daily maintenance. The ideal extended-wear candidate is a healthy individual with mild to moderate hearing loss who enjoys an active lifestyle. Our audiologists can determine whether you are a good candidate for extended-wear hearing aids.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Aids
All parts of the BTE aid are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear. The case is connected to a custom earmold with tubing that directs the amplified sound into the ear canal.