Hearing Aid Styles

If you are starting to think you need hearing aids, it’s a good time to learn about the different hearing aid styles available. Each style serves a slightly different purpose, that way when you shop around for a hearing aid you will find something that is best suited to your needs.

When you come to one of our Audiology clinics on Vancouver Island, the first thing we do is give you a comprehensive hearing test. Once we have a clear idea of your hearing needs, we can recommend the style of hearing aid that would help you the most.

Want to know more, so you can be better informed as you shop around for hearing aids? We wrote this beginner’s guide to hearing aid styles to help! If you want to know about pricing you can read our guide on hearing aid prices and payment plans.

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Hearing Aids

Behind the Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are typically the most common hearing aid style you will find. The main part of the device sits behind your ear, with a tube and earmold running from it into your ear canal to feed you the sound.

BTE hearing aids are more common because they are more powerful — their larger size allows them to have larger components and batteries to power them, making them ideal for people with all levels of hearing loss.

Receiver in Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

RIC hearing aids are also based off of the BTE style. Like the name suggests, the main difference with it compared to the BTE or RITE styles is that the receiver sits inside of your ear canal. This allows the unit behind your ear to be smaller and more discreet, but still just as powerful.

Otherwise, it functions the same. RIC hearing aids also capture sound in the main unit behind your ear, for example. We recommend it to people who have any level of hearing loss.

Completely in Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

Completely-in-Canal (CIC) hearing aids are a discreet variant of the ITE style. Its housing unit sits completely inside the ear canal, rather than on the outer portion of it like general ITE hearing aids do. They are almost completely invisible, with only the removal handle being outside of your ear canal.

CIC hearing aids, like all ITE hearing aid models, require a custom fitting so they fit comfortably inside your ear canal. Even the slightest difference may mean it either falls out too easily, or is uncomfortable to use for long. We typically recommend them to people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Receiver in the Ear (RITE) Hearing Aids

Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) hearing aids is a variation of the BTE style, with very similar looks and function. What makes it different is that the receiver sits just outside of the ear on the hollow next to the ear canal, rather than being inside of the main unit that is behind your ear.

We recommend it for people with all levels of hearing loss. Whether you choose it over others will depend on how severe your hearing loss, as well as the lifestyle and features you want.

In the Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids represent the second “family” of hearing aid styles. Compared to the BTE varieties, they are noteworthy for being less noticeable in appearance. The units are smaller and they sit on the outer portion of your ear canal. No part of the ITE hearing aid sits behind your ear, and it is usually coloured to blend in with your natural skin tone.

To make sure they fit comfortably and won’t fall out, ITE hearing aids use a custom shell to snugly fit the natural shape of your ear. The actual housing of the device holds all of the electronic parts, including the batteries.

They can be helpful to people with most levels of hearing loss, but they are generally not as powerful as the BTE varieties due to their smaller size. However, different individuals may find them more suitable, depending on their needs.

Invisible in Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids

Invisible-in-canal hearing aids are the other variation of the in-the-ear style. They are even smaller than CIC units, making them the smallest and least noticeable hearing aids you will find. Because they are so small, the housing unit can be placed even further into your ear canal. It makes it impossible for people to notice you are wearing hearing aids without looking directly inside your ear.

The other difference is that the microphone is located inside the ear, as opposed to outside of it with the other variations. This helps you hear more naturally and when you are having a conversation with people, especially on the phone. They are mostly meant for people who have mild to moderate hearing loss.

CROS & BiCROS Hearing Aids

CROS hearing aids are outside of the six styles listed above. They refer more to a specific function for hearing aids than how they look or fit in your ear. This is because CROS hearing aids are designed for people who have total hearing loss in one ear but have normal hearing in the other.

The CROS hearing aid goes in your ear that has total hearing loss to pick up sounds from that side of your body. It then transmits the sound to the hearing aid in your other ear, so you can still get a semblance of a full range of hearing for your surroundings.

BiCROS hearing aid work similarly, but they are made for people who have some hearing loss in the other ear. In this case, the one CROS hearing aid feeds another hearing aid on your other side, which itself is used to receive and amplify sound for that ear.

Until recently, CROS and BiCROS hearing aids were only made in the BTE style. However, now you can get them in the ITE hearing aid style as well.

Want to know more about the advantages or disadvantages of a particular hearing aid style? Contact us today, or book a free product discussion appointment for more information.

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