Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s up to you to determine which hearing aid style is right for you. As you consider the different hearing aid styles available, your audiologist will help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. While some styles are only suitable for mild or moderate hearing losses, most patients choose a style based on their cosmetic preferences and financial needs. San Diego hearing aid patients who have limited technological abilities or manual dexterity issues should consider these limitations when choosing a hearing aid style as well.
Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aid Styles
BTE hearing aids are by far the most popular, accounting for more than three-fourths of all hearing aid sales in San Diego and across America. There are three basic types of hearing aid styles worn behind the ear:
- Traditional BTE—Traditional BTE hearing aids appeal to a broad range of patients with all levels of hearing loss from young children to seniors because they are easy to use and control. All electronic components in BTE devices are housed in a casing that sits behind the patient’s ear. Sound is delivered into the ear canal via a small, clear tube. BTE devices are available in basic skin tones as well as many bright colors and patterns.
- Receiver-In-The-Ear (RITE)—Like traditional BTE hearing aids, RITE devices also rest behind the ear. Unlike BTE hearing aids, though, the receiver components are contained in a small earmold that sits in the bowl-shaped part of the outer ear. The two parts are connected by a tiny wire. RITE devices are smaller and more discreet than BTE hearing aids, and they are appropriate for patients with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
- Receiver-In-the-Canal (RIC)—RIC hearing aids are the most popular style because they combine the effectiveness of BTE hearing aids with the benefits of an open fit. These devices are nearly identical to RITE hearing aids, but the receiver resides in an even smaller earmold that rests deeper in the ear canal without blocking it completely. This allows natural sounds to enter the ear without amplification, while only sounds in the frequency-range of the patient’s hearing loss are processed through the hearing aid. They’re best for people with high-frequency hearing loss that’s mild to moderate.
In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aid Styles
Most San Diego hearing loss patients are familiar with ITE hearing aid styles because they were the only type available before digital technology took over. Today, ITE styles account for less than 20% of new hearing aids dispensed in the U.S. Despite this, it’s important to take the time to decide if ITE hearing aids are right for you.
- Traditional ITE—These devices fill the bowl-shaped part of the outer ear and may be full-shell or half-shell ITEs. They are more visible to others than any other style, but their size makes them easy to control. ITE hearing aids also use large batteries, which last longer and are easier to change. They are considered appropriate for patients with all levels of hearing loss.
- In-The-Canal (ITC)—ITC hearing aids are smaller than ITE devices but are still visible from the side. These devices are slightly smaller, allowing them to fit into the ear canal itself rather than resting outside of it. They work for patients with mild to moderate hearing loss.
- Completely-In-the-Canal (CIC)—CIC hearing aids are even smaller than ITC devices and are virtually invisible to others. Since these devices rest so deeply in the ear canal, they take advantage of the ear’s natural shape and are effective for mild to moderate losses. However, their size also leads to limited battery life and fewer available features.
- Extended wear—Extended wear hearing aids like Lyric are relatively new to the market are implanted deep in the ear canal by an audiologist. These devices last for months at a time and are worn continuously through all activities including sleeping and showering. The long battery life makes extended wear hearing aids appealing to highly active San Diego hearing loss patients. Since extended wear devices are disposed after their battery runs out, patients pay for a year of use at a time.