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Hearing aid technology is always evolving  devices are becoming increasingly more effective at transmitting sounds while also decreasing in size. Developers are constantly working to find the best way to deliver sound to the inner ear as well as increased comfort for the wearer, as the fit of the device evolves alongside the technology within.

Why Are There Different Hearing Aid Styles?

Different hearing aid styles are used to help a wide variety of people with different needs and different lifestyles, and most important, different types and levels of hearing loss. Different types of hearing aids range from in-ear (also called in-the-ear, ITE) to over-ear models (also called over-the-ear, OTE).

In-Ear Devices

Hearing aids that sit inside your ear are called in-ear devices. In-ear hearing aids are small and typically fall under three categories: completely in the canal, in the canal, and in the outer ear. Many different styles of hearing aids vary in battery and device size and even have the capability to become virtually invisible.

Completely in the Canal (CIC)

  • Custom molded to fit your ear canal
  • Smallest of all hearing aid styles 
  • Prone to speaker clogs caused by earwax
  • Less likely to pick up noise from wind
  • Requires small batteries, which mean shorter battery life
  • Don’t always have extra features (volume, directional microphone)
  • Least-visible hearing aid style

In the Canal (ITC)

  • Custom molded to sit partly in your ear canal
  • Susceptible to being clogged by earwax
  • Less visible than some other styles of hearing aid
  • May have more on-device controls than CIC models

In The (Outer) Ear or (ITE)

  • Comes in two different styles: half shell and full shell
  • Sit in the bowl-shaped area of your ear (full shell fills the bowl shape and half shell fills the bottom part of the bowl shape.)
  • May pick up more wind noise than ITC models
  • Bigger battery for longer battery life
  • Visible in the ear
  • Easier to handle due to bigger size

Over-Ear Devices

Some hearing aids sit over the ear or on the ear. These are called over-ear or on-ear hearing aids. Many different versions of over-ear hearing aids yield slightly different pros and cons. A very common over-the-ear device is called the behind-the-ear (BTE) model. They deliver sound into the ear canal through a custom-fitting earmold, a silicone dome or a foam tip. 

In over-the ear hearing devices, most of the functions come from the piece outside of the ear and transmits the sound through the earmold, dome, or tip that sits in the ear, and in some cases, in the canal. Most over-ear devices fall into three categories: behind-the-ear, receiver-in-the-canal, or receiver-in-the-ear.

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

  • Typically the largest style of hearing aid, but newer discrete models are being offered
  • Equipped with directional microphones
  • Ability to provide greater amplification
  • Can pick up wind noise more than less exposed in the ear options

Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE)

  • Manual control options
  • Over the ear portion may be smaller than BTE models
  • Directional microphones
  • Receiver is connected to the over-ear portion with a wire instead of tubing like in the BTE model

Open and closed model hearing domes utilize silicone domes where the receiver sits instead of a molded piece. Hearing devices with silicone domes instead of earmolds can provide relief from a phenomenon called the occlusion effect. This may be increasingly uncomfortable for those with low-level hearing loss. 

Small differences in fit and style may make or break your hearing experience. Seeking professional advice from an audiologist for hearing devices is your best option to receive the right hearing aid for your individual type of hearing loss and lifestyle.

Finding the Right Device

With so many options, it is important to find out what choice will best accommodate your hearing needs and lifestyle. At Sonora Hearing Care, we are here to help. We understand that finding the right hearing aids and accessories that meet your hearing loss needs, fit your lifestyle and your budget are the keys to a highly effective hearing experience. From assessing your hearing needs or purchasing hearing aids, please contact the team at Sonora Hearing Care today.