A wide range of technology and features are available in each hearing aid style. The cost of hearing aids generally depends on the level of technology. The level of technology that is best for you can be discussed with your Audiologist during the Hearing Aid Evaluation and Consultation. Today’s digital hearing aids are typically offered in various levels from basic or entry-level to advanced or premium-level. Within each level, different technology and features are available.
Hearing aids worn in the ear are usually custom-fit, based on a cast or impression of the ear. They are available in different skin tones to camouflage with the outer ear. There are several styles – each is listed below, ranging from smallest to largest.
Invisible in the Canal (IIC)
The smallest custom style hearing aid on the market. The IIC style sits invisibly deep in the ear canal for a very discreet style. IIC hearing aids are not suitable for sever hearing losses or very narrow ear canals. Your Audiologist will help to determine if this style is appropriate for you.
Completely in the Canal (CIC)
The next smallest custom style, CIC instruments fits entirely within the ear canal. CIC hearing aids are not suitable for sever hearing losses or very narrow ear canals. Your Audiologist will help to determine if this style is appropriate for you.
In the Canal (ITC)
ITC is a custom style that sits in the lower portion of the outer ear. They are slightly larger than the CIC models, which makes it easier for dexterity and provides for a larger battery to last longer. This style has additional features compared to the CIC or IIC styles, such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments and a volume control or program button.
Full Shell or In the Ear (ITE)
ITE models sit flush within the outer ear. This style is the largest custom hearing aid, which can allow for maximum number of additional controls and features such as directional microphones. They can use a larger battery size than the smaller styles, and can fit a larger receiver with enough power for even some severe hearing losses. Because of their flexibility, they’re widely recommended for mild to severe hearing loss.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) models sit behind and on top of the outer ear, with either a wire or tubing that transmits the amplified sound into the ear canal through either a custom earmold or a variety of sizes of domes which help keep the tubing and wire in the canal for optimal sound output. BTEs come in wide range of colors to blend with hair or skin tones for a more discreet look and personal preference. Different BTE sizes accommodate different features, controls, battery types and degrees of hearing losses.
Mini BTEs are the smallest option for the BTE style and are designed to be more discreet behind the ear. The tubing connects to a soft tip that sits in the ear canal but doesn’t occlude it. The result is a natural, open feeling as airflow and sound enter the ear naturally around the tip, while amplified sound enters through the tip. This is known as “open fitting” and is recommended for mild to moderate high frequency losses.
RIC (receiver-in-canal) models are mini BTEs that have the speaker of the instrument incorporated in the ear tip, instead of in the main body of the instrument. This style of hearing aid provides less chance of feedback (squealing noise) since the speaker and the microphone are separated further from one another. This style of hearing aid can fit almost any degree of hearing loss. This style has been the most popular for our patients, due to its comfortable feel and robust sound quality.
BTEs with custom earmolds are the largest style of hearing aids and can accommodate the biggest hearing aid battery, to provide long lasting battery life, especially for those with sever to profound hearing losses. This style can fit any degree of hearing loss, although it is mostly recommended more for moderate-profound hearing losses. BTEs with custom earmolds provide a wide range of programming options, manual controls, and accessories to help those who struggle the most in most listening environments.