There are six major styles of hearing aids. Each has its own positives and negatives that should be taken into consideration when selecting a style.
Completely in the canal (CIC)
This is the smallest and least visible style of hearing aid. The entire device sits within the ear canal. It is created from a custom-made mold of the patient’s ear canal, ensuring a secure fit. This style of device is least likely to pick up background noises, such as wind, since it is protected by the ear. Since this is the smallest style it also must contain the smallest battery. The smaller the battery the quicker it dies. The small size also limits the amount of additional features the device can contain. This device is appropriate for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.
In the canal (ITC)
This style sits partially within the canal and partly outside of it. While only slightly bigger than the CIC model, this style uses a larger battery and may contain a few additional features. The small size offers protection from the wind, eliminating extraneous background noises. Adults with mild to moderate hearing loss can benefit from this style of hearing aid.
In the ear (ITE)
This model contains two styles, one that fills most of the outer ear (full shell) or one that fills only the lower part (half shell). Since this model is slightly larger than the ITE, it is easier to handle, has a longer battery life and can fit more additional features. This device picks up more background noise since it is no longer protected by the ear. This style is appropriate for those of all ages with mild to severe hearing loss.
Behind the ear (BTE)
This type of hearing aid is a two-part style. One piece is created from a custom-made mold of the ear and sits within the ear canal and the other hooks over the top of the ear and rests behind it. The two parts are connected with tubing. This is the largest style of hearing aid, which means it can support the largest number of additional features. It also uses the biggest battery, leading to the longest battery life. This style can usually provide the most amount of amplification and is therefor appropriate for patients of all ages with any degree of hearing loss.
Receiver in the canal (RIC)/receiver in the ear (RITE)
This style is similar to the BTE; it is made up of two parts, one that sits within the ear and one that sits behind it. Instead of being connected with tubing, like the BTE, the parts are connected with a thin line. This produces a less visible device. As with the BIC, this style is appropriate for all ages with all types of hearing loss.
This is a variation on the RIC model, but instead of the custom-molded piece that takes up the whole ear canal, the molded piece is open. This allows low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally while the high-frequency sounds must still pass through the hearing aid to be amplified. This style works for those of all ages with mild to moderate hearing loss.