Understanding Hearing Aid Styles
Buying a hearing aid is a long and drawn-out process, but for good reason. You need to ensure that your hearing aid fits perfectly in or on your ear and you also need to buy one that is tuned to your needs. All of these requirements should be discussed with your audiologist, but it’s still a good idea to learn about the different hearing styles so you can see which appeals to you the most. If you learn these terms and understand these hearing aid styles early on, then it makes the process of testing and purchasing a hearing aid much smoother.
Completely-in-canal hearing aids
CIC hearing aids are custom made to fit inside of your ear canal. They are designed to be difficult to spot unless you look closely and they insert relatively deeply into the air. However, there is a small plastic piece that sticks out from the ear canal to make it easier to remove or place inside of your ear canal.
Your audiologist will likely recommend an IIC hearing aid if you want it to be completely discrete. These are custom-made to fit in your ear and they go fairly deep into your ear canal so that it can’t be seen unless you look really closely. IIC hearing aids need to be removed and cleaned on a daily basis because they do sit relatively deep in your ear canal as opposed to other types. Results will vary depending on the shape and type of ear you have, meaning that not every IIC hearing aid will achieve full invisibility. Compared to CICs, these are more discrete but do take a little more getting used to.
In-the-canal hearing aids
ITC hearing aids are also custom made, but unlike CIC and IIC hearing aids, these will sit on the outer part of the ear canal meaning they are more visible. However, this means that they are easier to remove. They offer the same level of hearing assistance and are better options for people that don’t feel comfortable inserting something small into their ear canal.
ITE hearing aids are the next step up from ITC. They fit even further out of the ear canal so they provide a better option for those that still find ITC hearing aids to be a little intrusive in the ear canal.
Behind-the-ear hearing aids
BTE hearing aids use circuitry that is housed in a small case that sits behind the ear. These hearing aids aren’t as discrete as the in-ear varieties and some find it strange to have a device resting behind their ear, but these are much easier to remove and are good options for those who really don’t like the idea of inserting something into their ear canal.
Talk with your audiologist to learn more about which style is most suited to your needs, lifestyle and budget.