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Hearing Aid Styles

Today, there are a wide variety of hearing aid styles to choose from. The choice of the best style for you depends on the type and degree of your hearing loss, the size and shape of your ear canal, your manual dexterity, how much earwax you tend to accumulate, and your personal preferences for style and features.   Most levels of hearing technology are available in most styles. The technology level of the hearing aid electronics is the primary factor in both the performance and cost of the hearing aid.


Receiver in the ear (RITE)

Receiver-In-The-Ear Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

These hearing aids are now the most popular style of hearing aid because they allow for a comfortable fit without making your ears feel plugged. They are also one of the least noticeable styles when they are worn. The hearing aid consists of a small case holding the microphone, amplifier and battery worn over the ear that connects to a small receiver (or speaker) that slips into the ear canal. This type of hearing aid style is most appropriate for mild-to-moderate hearing loss and is particularly good for high frequency hearing loss.

Receiver in the ear (RITE)

Slim-Tube Hearing Aids

Like the RIC style, these hearing aids have a case that is worn over the ear. The case holds ALL the electronic components of the hearing aid (microphone, amplifier and receiver). Connected to the case is a slim tube with a rounded tip that slips very inconspicuously into the ear canal. This style of hearing aid is good for people who have very small or narrow ear canals that cannot accommodate a RIC receiver or for people who have excessive earwax buildup that can plug up the receiver of a RIC hearing aid. Like the RIC, this is an inconspicuous style of hearing aid that does not plug the ear canal like conventional hearing aids. It is appropriate for most types and degrees of hearing loss.

Receiver in the ear (RITE)

Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids (BTE)

These are traditional hearing aids that have all electronic components housed in a case worn over the ear. The amplified sound travels through a tube that connects the hearing aid to a custom earmold. The earmold is an earpiece that is custom-made from an impression that is made of your ear. This style can accommodate larger amplifiers so it is appropriate for moderate-to-severe or profound degrees of hearing loss as well as mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

Full Shell or ITE

In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

These hearing aids are custom made from impressions of your ears. It is usually the easiest style to manipulate so it is often recommended if a person has limited finger dexterity. This style is appropriate for all but the most profound degree of hearing loss.


In-The-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids

This style of custom hearing aid fills up less of the ear than an ITE and is good for someone that needs an aid that is easy to insert yet who wants a less noticeable hearing aid style. It is appropriate for mild-to-moderately severe hearing loss.

Starkey BTE

Completely In-The-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

These are custom hearing aids that sit deeper in the ear canal so they are less visible than an ITC provided the ear canal diameter is average-to-large size. They must occlude the ear canal for best fit and retention so sometimes they can cause more of a plugged sensation in the ears than other styles of hearing aids. They are not appropriate for high frequency hearing loss when low frequency hearing is normal or near normal. The user must have good manual dexterity because these hearing aids use a very small battery. They are not a good choice for someone who has had problems with excessive earwax.


Invisible-In-The-Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids

This style of hearing aid is the very smallest and least visible custom-made hearing aid. It is best used by someone who has an average-to-large size ear canal, who has good manual dexterity, and who is most interested in using a hearing aid that, for appropriate candidates, is not noticeable at all. It is not the best choice for someone who has excessive earwax.