Hearing aids come in varying shapes and designs. Hearing aids amplify sounds, making it easier for people with hearing loss to hear. They feature three integral components: a microphone, speaker and amplifier. However, they come in varying shapes, sizes and designs. These designs have five styles, and each type has its benefits and shortcomings.
Typically, they are categorized into five popular hearing aid styles:
- Behind the Ear (BTE)
- In the Ear (ITE)
- In the Canal (ITC)
- Completely in Canal (CIC)
- Low-Profile Hearing Aids
Here is an overview of the top five hearing aid styles and how they work:
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
BTE hearing aids feature a sizable hearing case connected to an earmold. The plastic case houses the electronic components and is worn behind the ear, while the earmold fits inside the outer ear and transmits sounds.
BTE hearing aids are inconspicuous because of the large outer casing. However, the casing’s size allows it to house more electronic components for better sound quality. Consequently, BTE hearing aids can pick up faint sounds and are ideal for people experiencing mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
These hearing aids come in different colors to match the skin tone. Additionally, newer models come with a narrower sound tube designed for an open-fit. This design is smaller, easier to conceal and it eases concerns about damage from earwax build-up.
In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
ITE hearing aids fit inside the outer bowl, making them easier to conceal. The casing holding the electrical components and earmold are custom designed to fit the wearer’s inner ear size and shape.
These hearing aids are about as powerful as BTE hearing aids. The casing is large enough to hold as many electrical components as necessary. To this end, these hearing aids offer extra features such as a telecoil. A telecoil enables users to hear in environments featuring unique sound systems, such as airports, schools and hospitals. It also makes it easier to hear voices through the phone.
ITE hearing aids are helpful for people experiencing mild-to-severe hearing loss. It’s critical to replace kids’ hearing aids often as the child grows and their outer ears get more extensive.
In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids
ITC hearing aids fit snugly inside the ear canal. The hearing is a single component without moving components, unlike BTE and ITE hearing aids. Every device is custom-made to fit the wearer’s ear canal shape and size.
One of the best things about ITC hearing aids is that they are easy to conceal, thanks to their small size. However, their small size limits the number of features they can support, eliminating crucial features such as a telecoil. Additionally, they lack volume controls and their battery life is limited.
Consequently, these hearing aids are primarily for people experiencing mild-to-moderate hearing loss. They are also not recommendable for kids as they can be difficult to remove.
Completely-in-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
CIC hearing aids fit completely inside the ear canal, making them virtually impossible to see. They are smaller than ITC hearing canals and are tethered to a small tug that users pull to remove the device. They are also custom-designed to fit the individual wearer’s canal size and shape.
CIC hearing aids feature limited features and functionalities because of their small size. However, they are still powerful enough to deliver clear sounds to people experiencing mild and moderate hearing loss. However, they are not recommended for kids, as their small size can increase the risk of injuries and accidents.
Low-Profile Hearing Aids
Low-profile hearing aids closely resemble ITC hearing aids in shape and design. However, they have a more versatile range of shapes including half-shall and full-shell designs that fit the outer ear partly or entirely.
These hearing aids are slightly larger than ITC and CIC aids, making them ideal for people who struggle with dexterity issues. Additionally, their larger size enables them to accommodate more electrical components and features, making them suitable for people experiencing severe hearing loss. They are recommendable for adults as well as kids.
Hearing aids help overcome mild, moderate, and severe cases of hearing loss. They come in these five styles and designs. Each style has its benefits and shortcomings, as explained, so be sure to consider all factors before buying one. Better yet, why not talk to a hearing aid specialist?