Choosing the right hearing aid is a big decision. Part of making the right choice is knowing a bit about the different styles available and what they can offer you. Hearing aid styles are designed for a wide variety of hearing needs, so here’s a handy guide to the key features of the most common styles.
RIC: Receiver in Canal
Receiver in Canal means that a unit behind the ear houses a microphone and amplifier that deliver sound to an ear mold or ear bud receiver placed in the ear canal. RIC hearing aids are some of the most discreet and powerful hearing aids on the market with great sound quality and loads of options. They are appropriate for a wide range of hearing loss, and RIC bluetooth hearing aids offer digital sound streaming capabilities from smart phones and other devices.
ITC: In the Canal
In the Canal hearing aids are small custom-molded hearing devices that sit entirely in the ear canal. ITC hearing aids pack a lot of punch for their size and they are still capable of directional microphone pickup. Their small size and placement make them hardly noticeable and but they can also be harder to manipulate. ITC devices are also more inclined to feedback issues and may not be available for all levels of hearing loss.
CIC: Completely in Canal
Even less noticeable than ITC hearing aids, hearing aids with a Completely in Canal design are positioned entirely inside the ear canal. CIC hearing aids take advantage of the natural shape of the outer ear to direct sound, as their size and placement make embedded directional microphones not possible. CIC hearing aids are virtually unnoticeable but come with some of the same concerns as ITC hearing aids – they can be hard to maneuver for people with dexterity issues, may be prone to feedback and are not available for more severe degrees of hearing loss.
IIC: Invisible in Canal
The shrinking size of digital components has led to an even further advancement in hearing aid size – the Invisible in Canal style. IIC hearing aids are custom fit to sit deep in the ear canal. These tiny devices don’t have the feedback issues of ITC or CIC designs while offering a near-invisible profile. IIC design does have some of the same limitations as other compact hearing aids – the small size can make battery life and battery changing an issue.
BTE: Behind the Ear
Behind the Ear hearing aids are comprised of a small unit that rests on the ear and delivers sound via plastic tubing to a discrete ear mold placed in the ear canal. BTE hearing aids are the workhorses of hearing aid styles: while still compact, their larger size makes them sturdier and easier to handle than other designs. BTE hearing aids are a durable and versatile option that can be used to assist most degrees of hearing loss.
Mini BTE: Mini Behind the Ear
This adaptation of the BTE design uses an earbud to deliver sound to the ear canal rather than a fitted ear mold. Because the ear bud does not fill the ear canal, mini-BTE sound delivery feels more natural. Mini-BTE design is a compact version of the BTE hearing aid style, and they are similarly built to deliver reliable sound with easy-to-use features.
ITE: In the Ear
In the Ear hearing aids are built in a shell that is worn in the outer ear. ITE designs vary in shell molding but can easily accommodate features like volume and directional microphones. Because they are positioned in the outer ear, ITE hearing aids are often more noticeable than other styles. Unlike designs that sit further into the ear canal, ITE hearing aids are easy to manipulate and position.
The Hearing Consultants
Figuring out the right hearing aid for your lifestyle and needs takes some consideration. At The Hearing Consultants we put our years of experience and personalized care into helping you find your best hearing solution. We’re always happy to help you understand the features and advantages of the hearing aids you are considering, as well as providing you the best in programming and hearing aid repair.