To the public, it probably seems that all hearing aids are created equal, but that’s definitely not the case. There are several major hearing aid manufacturers who produce devices with unique qualities to meet specific patient needs. In addition, based on the individual’s hearing loss, there are different hearing aid styles & types that work better in specific situations. And, you can even personalize your hearing aids with a pop of color, like lime green, or a more discrete brown or silver, to match your hair color.
Overall, your audiologist will take your lifestyle and personal goals into consideration and guide you to the most suitable choice and hearing aid style.
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 case that houses the technology. That means the smallest style isn’t necessarily the most expensive or the best.
Here are the most common hearing aid styles you’ll find as options:
Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids
These aids look similar to behind-the-ear hearing aid with a unique difference — the speaker of the hearing aid is placed inside the ear canal, and a thin wire replaces the acoustic tube of the BTE aid. These aids also offer cosmetic and listening advantages for many adults. These can be utilized as open-fit technology or more closed when more power is required.
In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
All parts of the ITE aid are contained in a custom shell that fits in the outer part of the ear canal. These aids are larger than completely-in-the-canal aids and, for some people, may be easier to handle than smaller deep-fitting hearing aids.
Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) & Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
These aids are contained in a tiny case that is custom fit partly or completely into the ear canal. They are the smallest aids available and offer some cosmetic advantages. An audiologist can determine if you are a good candidate for invisible-in-canal or completely-in-the-canal technology and can discuss the pros and cons.
Behind-the-Ear Open-Fit Hearing Aids
Open-fit technology keeps the ears open to sound, rather than plugging up the ear with the hearing aid. The frequencies that you don’t need amplified travel normally through the ear canal, remaining natural and comfortable, while the frequencies 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.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
All parts of the BTE aid are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear. The case is connected to an earmold by a piece of clear tubing. These types of hearing aids provide the most amplification for a full range of hearing needs, including for the most severe hearing loss.
All of these hearing aids are available from different manufacturers and most offer similar benefits such as:
- Better precision in setting the appropriate gain for each frequency
- “Smart” processing such as machine learning
- More flexibility for individual adjustments
- Management of loud sounds for comfort
- Control of acoustic feedback (whistling sounds)
- Advanced noise reduction
- Automatic volume control and program changes
- Bluetooth streaming and advanced accessories for improved connectivity
To determine the best hearing aid style and features to meet your hearing needs, schedule an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist.