What's the Best Hearing Aid Style for Me?
If you are considering pursuing hearing aids or even if you already wear hearing aids, you may wonder "what's the best hearing aid style for me?"
Thanks to advancements in digital technology and miniaturization of electronic components, there are more options for hearing aid styles and sizes now compared to even 10 years ago. Hearing aids today are sleek, compact, and innovative.
There are many factors to consider when selecting the best hearing aid style. The Audiologists at Mile High Hearing will provide you pros and cons of different styles and a recommendation for the best hearing aid style for you. Some factgors to consider include:
- The degree of hearing loss (volume/power requirements)
- Anatomical/medical considerations
- Manual dexterity and visual abilities
- Skin sensitivities
- Use of supplemental oxygen
- Wireless streaming capability
There are two main hearing aid styles, Behind-the-Ear and In-the-Ear.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids rest behind the upper portion of the outer ear (pinna). BTEs come in a variety of colors. Often people select a color that will blend with their hair color. Some people opt for a fashion color (blue, green, pink, etc.) to show off their personal style or for better ease of finding if dropped or misplaced. Different BTE sizes accommodate different degrees of hearing loss, features, controls, and battery types.
Receiver in the ear (RITE)
RITE models, also known as RIC (receiver-in-canal) models, are small BTE hearing aids that have an electronic wire attached the aid that rests next to the ear. The speaker of the hearing aid is connected to the wire and is located in the ear canal. This allows for a smaller body of the hearing aid behind the ear. A dome or custom ear mold will surround the speaker in the ear canal.
This style is the most widely dispensed style of hearing aid currently. A RITE/RIC hearing aid can accommodate a wide range of hearing loss degrees, from mild to profound.
Mini BTE with slim tube and tip
Mini BTEs have a thin tube connected to them that rests next to the ear. The tube directs sound into the ear canal. The tubing connects to a dome or custom ear mold that sits in the ear canal.
BTE with ear mold
BTEs with standard ear molds have a thicker tube than the miniBTE style. A thicker tube can allow for more sound to be directed down the ear canal, which can accommodate a greater amount of hearing loss than the slim tube style.
Hearing aids worn in the ear are custom-fit based on an impression of your ear. They are available in different skin tones to blend with the outer ear. Different in-the-ear sizes accommodate different degrees of hearing loss, features, controls, and battery types. The apparent size of an in-the-ear hearing aid is very dependent on the size of your ear canal. Typically, a larger ear canal will allow for a hearing aid that appears smaller, and vice versa, a smaller ear canal will have a hearing aid that appears larger.
Invisible In-The-Canal (IIC)
The smallest custom style, IIC instruments sit deep in the ear canal and appear invisible.
CIC instruments fit deeply and entirely within the ear canal. Typically CIC models only have one microphone since they take advantage of the natural benefits from the outer ear when it comes to localizing sound and directionality.
ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl. They are slightly larger than CIC models, have a longer battery life, and can host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments and controls such as volume controls.
Full Shell or In-the-Ear (ITE)
Full shell models sit flush within the outer ear bowl. Their size allows the maximum number of additional controls and features such as directional microphones, program button and volume control. They use a larger battery size than the smaller styles, which will increase the lifespan of the battery.