Different Styles of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids come in different shapes and sizes. An audiologist can help find the best hearing aid for you.

In-the-Canal, or ITC, and Completely-in-the-Canal, or CIC, Aids

These are the smallest types of aids. The ITC fits partly in your ear canal. The CIC fits completely into your ear canal. This makes them hard for others to see. Some people may find them hard to handle. Photo courtesy of Phonak.

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

This type of hearing aid fills the outer part of your ear. They are larger than canal aids. This makes them easier to handle than smaller aids. Photo courtesy of Phonak.

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

All parts of the aid are in a small plastic case that rests behind your ear. The case connects to an earmold by a piece of clear tubing. This style is often best for young children. They are safer for children and the earmolds can change as they grow. 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, like the BTE aid. A very small clear tube runs into the ear canal. A small tip holds the tube inside the ear canal. This makes them harder for others to see. Adults use this type of aid more than children. Photo courtesy of Oticon.

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

These aids look like BTE aids, but work in a different way. There is a wire that goes into the ear canal instead of a tube. The wire connects to the hearing aid speaker inside the ear canal. This makes them harder for others to see. Adults use this type of aid more than children. Photo courtesy of Oticon.

Receiver-in-canal aids
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Extended Wear Hearing Aids

You can wear these aids for several months at a time. Your audiologist puts them in your ear and they stay there until you need new ones. They are soft and fit the curves of your ear. You can wear them in the shower and when exercising. This makes them good for active people.


Middle Ear Implants

The implant goes in the space behind your eardrum. It vibrates your middle ear bones, which send the sound to your inner ear. The implant connects to a device you wear on the side of your head. This part collects sounds and sends them to the implant. These are good for people who cannot wear earmolds or have narrow ear canals.


Most of the hearing aids sold today are ITC, CIC, or ITE aids. BTE hearing aids are most common for babies and young children. However, many adults now wear the open fit style of BTE.

There are also hearing aids for special types of hearing loss. One type is a bone conduction hearing aid. This is for people who have no ear canal or outer ear. They wear a headband connected to a bone vibrator. Sounds go to the inner ear from the vibrator. Another is a bone-anchored aid, called an osseointegrated hearing aid. This is an implant in your skull. It has three parts, including the implant, a device that sits outside your skull, and a sound processor.

CROS aids are a special type of hearing aid. These send sounds coming to one ear over to the other ear. These are for people who have no hearing in one ear. There are even hearing aids built into glasses for those who need to wear them that way.

As you can see, there are hearing aids for almost any kind of hearing loss!

To find an audiologist near you, visit ProFind.

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