Different Styles of Hearing Aids

In-the-Canal (ITC) and Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Aids

These aids are contained in a tiny case that fits partly or completely into the ear canal. They are the smallest aids available and offer some cosmetic and listening advantages. Photo courtesy of Phonak

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
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In-the-Ear (ITE) Aids

All parts of the aid are contained in a shell that fills in the outer part of the ear. These aids are larger than canal aids and, for some people, may be easier to handle than smaller aids. Photo courtesy of Phonak

In-the-ear (ITE) aids
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Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Aids

All parts of the aid are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear. The case is connected to an earmold by a piece of clear tubing. This style is often chosen for young children for safety and growth reasons. Photo courtesy of Oticon

Behind-the-ear (BTE) aids
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Behind-the-Ear Aid: Open Fitting

A small plastic case rests behind the ear, and a very fine clear tube runs into the ear canal. Inside the ear canal, a small, soft silicone dome or a molded, highly vented acrylic tip holds the tube in place. These aids offer cosmetic and listening advantages and are used typically for adults. Photo courtesy of Oticon

Behind-the-ear aid: open fitting
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Receiver-in-Canal Aids

These aids look very similar to the behind-the-ear hearing aid with a unique difference: the speaker of the hearing aid is placed inside the ear canal, and thin electrical wires replace the acoustic tube of the BTE aid. These aids also offer cosmetic and listening advantages and are typically used for adults. Photo courtesy of Oticon

Receiver-in-canal aids
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Extended Wear Hearing Aids

These aids are devices that are nonsurgically placed in the ear canal by an audiologist. They are worn up to several months at a time without removal. The devices are made of soft material designed to fit the curves of the ear. They are worn continuously and then replaced with a new device. They are very useful for active individuals because their design protects against moisture and earwax, and they can be worn while exercising, showering, etc.

The majority of hearing aids sold today are canal hearing aids and in-the-ear hearing aids. The behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid is the most commonly recommended aid for infants and young children (see below for explanation); however, many adults now wear the open fit style of BTE.

There are also special hearing aids built to handle very specific types of hearing loss. For example, a bone conduction hearing aid uses a headband and a bone vibrator for individuals who have no ear canal or outer ear. These devices bypass the outer and middle ear and directly stimulate the cochlea. A relatively new innovation is the osseointegrated hearing aid (bone anchored), which is implanted in the skull. This device has three parts: a titanium implant, an external abutment, and a detachable sound processor.


Middle Ear Implants

These hearing systems implanted in the space behind the eardrum that mechanically vibrate the middle ear structures. This device has two parts: an external portion and an implanted portion.

There are also hearing aids called CROS aids that route sounds coming to one ear over to the other ear. These devices are for use by individuals who have no hearing in one ear. In special cases, hearing aids can be built into glasses for individuals who need that type of fitting.

Given the many innovations, there are hearing aids available that can accommodate virtually any kind of hearing loss!


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