Hearing aids are available in many different types, or categories. Most hearing aid manufacturers offer programmable and non-programmable Behind-the-Ear aids (BTEs), and cosmetically appealing Custom hearing aids.
Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids are designed for people of all ages with mild to profound hearing loss. Their electronics are housed in a shell that fits securely behind your outer ear. A small tube connects the shell with an ear mold, or a dome that carries sound into your ear canal. They come in two sub-categories:
Open fit BTE hearing aids have a tiny dome or speaker in the ear canal, which doesn’t plug the ear canal like the BTE with earmold. Open fit hearing aids may use very small batteries and have few manual controls. They can be fitted to people having mild to moderately severe high-frequency losses.
BTE with earmold
The classic BTE hearing aid has a molded earpiece that fits snugly into the ear and a hard plastic hearing aid is worn behind the ear. They are generally the largest and most visible types of hearing aids. They have greater battery capacity and thus have better amplification and more features & controls than custom models. They are very robust and easy to use, so they are a good choice for children and people with limited dexterity. They can help the largest range of hearing losses, from mild to profound.
Receiver in the Ear (RITE) hearing aids are newer type of hearing aids. They have the aesthetic and functional appeal of smaller devices along with the advanced sound processing technology of larger BTE styles. A thin wire connects some of the smallest BTE shells to a receiver/speaker that sits inside the canal. RITE instruments fit mild to severe hearing losses. They are easy to use with the telephone and they have more features than CIC models.
Custom Hearing Aids:
Custom hearing aids are worn in the ear. They are usually custom-fit, based on a cast or impression of the ear. They’re available in different skin tones to camouflage with the outer ear. There are several styles – each is listed below, ranging from smallest to largest.
Completely in the Canal (CIC)
The smallest custom style, CIC instruments fit deeply and entirely within the ear canal. They fit mild to moderate hearing losses and offer high cosmetic appeal as they’re nearly invisible when worn. As well as being the most discreet, CIC aids are better insulated from wind noise and are usually easy to use with the telephone. Because of their small size, CIC aids typically have a shorter battery life and less features than other styles.
In the Canal (ITC) hearing aids have custom molded ear pieces that fit partially in the ear canal. They are designed for adults with mild to moderate hearing losses.
They are comfortable and easier to use than CIC hearing aids. Because they’re slightly larger than CIC models, they have a longer battery life, and can have additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments, and controls such as volume controls.
Inside the Ear (ITE) hearing aids come in custom molded full shell and half-shell designs. The full-shell ITE aid fits most of the outer ear, so is more visible and likely to detect wind noise. This style can help people with mild to severe hearing loss and is generally easier to insert in the ear. It also has more features and a longer battery life.
Because of their slightly larger size, they may have additional features such as directional microphones, volume controls and push buttons to activate special settings for different listening environments. The half-shell ITE aids fill the lower portion of the outer ear and are designed for people with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.