Hearing aids come in many different styles. Finding the right hearing aid style for you depends on your degree of hearing loss, your lifestyle preferences, and cosmetic concerns. In this article we will share some of the common hearing aid styles you get.
1. In-the-ear hearing aid styles:
Invisible in the canal (IIC)
Completely in the canal (CIC)
IIC and CIC styles are the smallest and most discreet hearing aids available. “Invisible in the canal” IIC styles are as described, basically invisible. This hearing style is placed very deeply in the ears, and they must be removed by tugging on a small pull-out string. “Completely in the canal” CIC are a very similar hearing aid style, but don’t sit quite so deeply within the ears.
These hearing aid styles are typically fit for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Because of their small size, they don’t usually come with any manual controls, like volume wheels or program buttons.
Advantages of in-the-ear-styles hearing aids:
- Very discreet;
- Good sound quality because of how they fit within the ear.
Disadvantages of in-the-ear-styles hearing aids:
- Susceptible to ear wax and moisture damage;
- Small size can be a problem for agility;
- Small size also can be a problem for connectivity to wireless devices, like smartphones.
2. In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid style:
ITC hearing aids sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because this hearing aid style is slightly larger than IIC and CIC styles, they tend to have a slightly longer battery life and can fit a wider range of hearing losses. As a result, their size also allows them to host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments and manual controls, like a volume wheel, if required.
Advantages of in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid style:
- Longer battery life and more features than IIC and CIC styles
Disadvantages of In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid style:
- Susceptible to ear wax and moisture damage;
- More occlusion, can make wearers feel plugged up;
- Small size can be a problem for connectivity to wireless devices
3. Behind-the-ear hearing aid styles
3.1 Receiver in the ear (RITE)
This hearing aid style is typically known as either the “receiver in the ear” (RITE) or “receiver in canal” (RIC), depending on the manufacturer. In essence, they mean the same thing – an open-fit hearing aid style that has the speaker built into an insertable ear dome, instead of the main body of the hearing aid. In other words, the speaker of the hearing aid rests in the ear canal, but the microphone and processor sit in a tiny case behind the ear. As a result, they are connected by a thin wire. This hearing aid style tends to have above-average sound quality and is made by all major hearing aid manufacturers.
If it gets damaged, the speaker portion of the hearing aid that fits in the ear can often be replaced at the hearing aid centre, instead of having to be shipped off to the manufacturer for repair. Therefore, makes it cost effective too.
Advantages of receiver in the ear (RITE)
- generally the only style that comes with a rechargeable battery option;
- most likely to come with wireless connectivity to devices like phones;
- the speaker can be replaced separately;
- telecoil options are common
Disadvantages of receiver in the ear (RITE):
- smaller RITE sizes (known as mini-RITEs) can be a problem for agility;
- speaker, which is inside the ear, is susceptible to moisture and ear wax damage;
- the microphone and sound processor that sit behind the ear is visible.
3.2 Behind-the-ear with earmold (BTE)
BTE styles that come with earmolds can fit any type of hearing loss, from mild to extreme. Their longer shape follows the contour behind the outer ear and can generally house more features, controls and battery power than any other style of hearing aid. As a result, a BTE with earmold hearing aid style is commonly used for children because it can be reprogrammed as needed and the earmold can be replaced as the child grows.
Advantages of behind-the-ear with earmold (BTE):
- fits all degrees of hearing loss, including profound hearing loss;
- usually available in models with wireless connectivity to devices;
- custom-fit earmold can be replaced separately;
- less susceptible to moisture damage
Disadvantages of behind-the-ear with earmold (BTE):
- more occlusion, can make wearers feel plugged up;
- potential space limitations for eyeglass wearers;
- not as cosmetically hidden
What is the best hearing aid style for me?
Selecting and understanding what hearing aid style the right fit for you is can be challenging. When it comes to hearing aids, there are many features and hearing aid styles available to suit different hearing loss needs. Therefore, it’s important to consider a number of different things when selecting the right hearing aid style to fit your needs.
Do you currently wear hearing aids?
If you’re already wearing hearing aids and want to update them, the best place to start is with the current hearing aid style. If you’re happy with that style, you’ll often be able to find the same or a similar style to your outdated device, just with newer and more modern features. It’s possible the type of hearing loss has changed over time, however, so it’s important to have your hearing tested before updating hearing aids, which we at Strauss Audiology will gladly do.
Do you have problems with dexterity?
If you have dexterity issues (for example, difficulty grasping small items or losing feeling in fingertips), it’s usually better to avoid smaller devices. Low-profile ITE or BTE hearing aid styles with earmolds might be suitable because they are the largest instruments and easiest to handle. Additionally, the batteries will be the largest, which will allow for simpler battery swaps. Some BTE hearing aid styles come with rechargeable batteries, which are easy to use. Lastly, hearing aids that come with automated features should also be considered — so you don’t have to use the tiny buttons to adjust the volume. You can also consult us about the possibility of a remote control if the volume or program controls on your hearing aids are difficult to use.
What kind of hearing loss do you have?
If you have hearing loss in both the low and high sounds, a more obscuring fit from CIC or ITC hearing aid styles will help process sound while still being quite discreet. The obstruction helps block out unwanted background noise.
But, if your hearing loss is primarily in the high frequencies—which most people have, especially if they have age-related hearing loss—the open-fit RITE hearing aid styles are the most comfortable because they let in the natural low-frequency sounds you are still capable of hearing, while amplifying the high frequencies.
Do you need hearing aids?
Hearing aids can be fit for a broad range of hearing losses in more styles and sizes than ever before, in part due to the miniaturization of electronics. More people than ever can wear tiny, nearly invisible models, and even the larger-sized instruments are available in modern, sleek hearing aid styles. Need to get fit for hearing aids, or think you have hearing loss? A good next step is to book a consultation with us so that we can help you with the correct hearing aid style that will work for you.
About Strauss Audiology
Strauss Audiology is a professional audiology business in the northern suburbs of Cape Town, offering expert, effective hearing advice that is tailored to clients’ unique hearing needs. We conduct hearing evaluations, hearing tests and vertigo assessments, and provide a range of solutions to improve and protect clients’ hearing. This includes providing hearing aids to Cape Town clients. With 13 years of experience, and with the qualifications and certifications to deliver leading hearing care, you can trust us to take care of your hearing needs.
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