Are there different styles of hearing aids?
There are three basic styles of hearing aids. The styles differ by size, their placement on or inside the ear, and the degree to which they amplify sound.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids consist of a hard plastic case worn behind the ear and are connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The electronic parts are held in the case behind the ear. Sound travels from the hearing aid through the earmold and into the ear. BTE aids are suitable for mild to profound hearing loss.
A new kind of BTE aid is an open-fit hearing aid. Small, open-fit aids fit behind the ear completely, with only a narrow tube inserted into the ear canal, enabling the canal to remain open. For this reason, open-fit hearing aids may be a good choice if you experience a buildup of earwax, since this type of aid is less likely to be damaged by such substances. You may prefer the open-fit hearing aid if you experience a "plugged up" feeling when listening to the sound of your own voice.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely inside the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. The case holding the electronic components is made of hard plastic. Some ITE aids may have certain added features installed, such as a telecoil. A telecoil is a small magnetic coil that allows you to receive sound through the circuitry of the hearing aid, rather than through its microphone. This makes it easier to hear conversations over the telephone. A telecoil can also help you hear in public facilities that have installed induction loop systems. Induction loop systems can be found in many churches, schools, airports, and auditoriums. ITE aids usually are not worn by young children because the casings need to be replaced often as the ear grows.
Canal aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two styles. The in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid is made to fit the size and shape of your ear canal. A completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid is smaller than and ITC and nearly hidden in the ear canal. Both types are used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Because they are small, canal aids may be more difficult for you to adjust to and to remove. In addition, canal aids have less space available for batteries and additional devices, such as a telecoil. They usually are not recommended for young children or for people with severe to profound hearing loss because their reduced size limits their power and volume.
- Open-Fit and Receiver-In-the-Canal Behind-the-Ear Style: These are similar to the conventional BTE but are much smaller, making them more discreet. A very small tube leads to the ear canal making this option much more cosmetically appealing while offering superior sound quality.