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Quick Guide to Hearing Aid Styles

Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, and each style has different strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, not all hearing aids are ideal for every type of hearing loss, and hearing aids may vary in power, lifespan, and capabilities. With so many options on the market it helps to know what to expect from the different styles.

Behind the Ear (BTE)

  • Typically the largest and most powerful style
  • Ideal for most hearing losses
  • May allow for phone compatibility
  • Larger battery- longer battery life
  • Often requires a custom earmold (may require replacement every 1-2 years)
  • Average life expectancy is 4-6 years

Receiver in Canal (RIC)

  • Ideal for Mild to Severe hearing loss
  • Less visible than BTE style
  • Many manufacturers offer rechargeable option
  • May allow for phone compatibility
  • Provides more natural sound quality
  • Average life expectancy is 4-6 years

The following options are custom hearing aids. This requires an impression be taken with silicone material in office allowing the hearing aid to be molded to an individual’s ear. Due to the personalized nature of these hearing aids, production may take slightly longer than standard products. Something to consider- due to the enclosed nature of custom devices, they are often poor candidates for “in-office repairs” meaning you may be without your device for 1-2 weeks if you experience a repair issue requiring the device to be sent in to the manufacturer.

In the Ear (ITE)

  • Ideal for Mild to Severe hearing loss
  • Larger battery, some manufacturers offer rechargeable options
  • Allows features such as volume control
  • May allow for phone compatibility
  • Average life expectancy is 3-5 years

In the Canal (ITC)

  • Ideal for Mild to Moderate hearing loss
  • Allows features such as volume control, but may be difficult to adjust due to small size
  • May allow for phone compatibility
  • Average life expectancy is 2-4 years

Completely in Canal (CIC)

  • Small batteries- shorter life and may be difficult to manage for individuals with dexterity issues
  • Ideal for Mild to Moderate hearing loss
  • May allow for phone compatibility
  • Susceptible to repair issues
  • Lacks additional features
  • Average life expectancy is 2-4 years

Invisible in Canal (IIC)

  • Smallest and least visible style
  • Small batteries- shorter life and may be difficult to manage for individuals with dexterity issues
  • Ideal for Mild to Moderate hearing loss
  • May allow for phone compatibility
  • Susceptible to repair issues
  • Lacks additional features
  • Average life expectancy is 2-4 years

Your audiologist can work with you to determine which style is best suited to your hearing loss and lifestyle. Each style is offered in a range of technology levels and prices. Features may vary based on style, manufacturer, and technology level. Many manufacturers now offer phone compatibility; however, compatibility varies by model of hearing aid and smartphone. Be sure to discuss with your audiologist which features are important to you.

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Chelsea Devlin, Audiology Assistant

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