If you’ve recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, you may be curious about what the different types of hearing aids are. With so many shapes, styles, ear positions and prices available to suit varying levels of hearing loss and user preferences, it can feel overwhelming to learn about the type of hearing aid best suited to you.
At Hearing Expert, our experienced audiologists will only recommend hearing solutions that are clinically appropriate for your hearing needs and lifestyle requirements. To give you a broad overview, hearing instruments generally fall into one of three categories: behind-the-ear aids, in-ear aids and hidden hearing aids.
Below are the different types of hearing aids you can expect to find in each category.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are one of the most popular and easier to use hearing aids. This small plastic device is positioned behind or on top of the outer ear and it is suitable for most types of hearing loss. All of the hearing aids parts are in the case at the back of the ear, which joins to the ear canal with a tube and a custom mould or tip.
BTEs come in a range of colours and are usually less susceptible to the effects of dirt, dust, moisture and wax. You can even get completely waterproof BTE instruments.
Receiver in the canal hearing aids — also known by some manufacturers as receiver in the ear hearing aids (RITE) — are another popular type of hearing instrument fitted in the UK. They are light, comfortable and extremely versatile as they can be customised to each user.
This type of hearing aid is similar to BTE hearing aids, but the receiver (the speaker) is absent from the case that sits at the back of the ear. Instead, It is fitted inside your ear canal or ear and connects to the case of the hearing aid with a thin wire.
RIC and RITE hearing aids are less visible than BTE hearing aids, but they can also be more fiddly to use.
For a more discrete option, the following types of hearing aids have their working parts in the ear mould, so the whole aid fits into your ear.
In-the-ear hearing aids fill the area just outside the opening of your ear. Unlike behind-the-ear hearing aids, they are invisible from behind but are visible from the side. ITE hearing aids are suitable for most people with hearing loss, although they can be trickier to use than other types.
ITEs are usually custom-made from an impression of the patient’s ear so if you opt for this hearing aid, choose a provider you trust as some manufacturers produce a generic ITE model that won’t suit the unique shape of your ear.
In the canal (ITC) hearing aids are similar to ITE aids, but they are smaller and just fill the opening of the ear. They are less visible than many other types of hearing aids but can be trickier to use and aren’t usually powerful enough for users with severe hearing loss.
Completely in the canal (CIC) and invisible in the canal (IIC) hearing aids are the smallest types of hearing aids available. They fit further into the opening of your ear than ITC hearing aids, are barely visible and less likely to pick up wind noise.
However, CICs use tiny batteries that have a shorter lifespan and they can be fiddly to use. It may be necessary for your hearing specialist to fit and remove your CIC hearing aid.