Popular Types of Hearing Aids

The amazing technology of hearing aids allows individuals with hearing impairments to gain a means of keeping in touch with family and friends through the experience of hearing. There are many different types of hearing aids to match the needs of an individual, and often hearing aids must be custom-programmed for each user. Most hearing aids share similar components such as a microphone that picks up sound, amplifier, miniature loudspeaker, and batteries. Different types of hearing aids often differentiate by design, technology used to achieve amplification (analog vs. digital), and special features. Here are some of the most common types of hearing aids available:

1. Behind-the-ear (BTE)

BTE aids can be used for all types of hearing loss from mild to profound. They fit behind, or on top of the ear with an ear hook that attaches to a tube and runs from the hearing aid to the entrance of the ear canal. BTEs are the most common type of aid for children due to their ease of upgrade and flexibility. There are two kinds of BTE aids:

Traditional BTE: Traditional BTEs use thicker molding for more stability and power, which allows it to handle extra sound pressure without distortion. They are the most appropriate fit for profound hearing loss, but can work well for mild through severe loss as well.

Slim-tubing BTE: This open ear fit hearing aid style just recently became available in the past decade. It is best fit for high-frequency hearing loss because it allows for a more natural sound for high frequency loss due to the open tip. The slim tubing works best with mild through moderate hearing loss.

2. In-the-ear (ITE):

In-the-ear hearing aids were the first custom hearing aids made available. ITE aids are larger than in-the-canal aids and can sometimes provide more power. This instrument is best devised for people who have difficulty with dexterity or vision, its twin microphones allow for better directionality and noise reduction. Half-shell hearing aids are just smaller versions of ITEs for individuals who have difficulty putting a full BTE in their ear.

3. In-the-canal (ITC)

In-the-canal aids fit in the concha, or bowl of the ear, and may or may not be available with twin microphones. Completely-in-the-ear canal hearing aids are made to fit fully inside the ear canal with minimal visibility, and due to its small size, only one microphone can be installed. The deep fit of the hearing aid, however, provides some directionality that is often lacking in the larger hearing aids. These typically work for a mild to severe hearing loss, but also depend on the size of the ear canal.

4. Receiver-in-canal (RIC)

RIC aids are often mistaken for BTEs, however instead of resting behind the ear, the receiver is placed inside the ear canal. This makes the body of the device smaller and lighter, as well as improving the sound quality at the ear drum. These types of hearing aids are the most popular on the market today.