You’ve no doubt noticed that modern hearing aids come in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and sizes. In the attached video I present a 5 minute overview of the high points and low points of each style.
Here’s a recap!
Behind the Ear “BTE”
Just as the title would suggest, a BTE hearing aid sits behind the ear. It carries sound through a rubber tube into a custom made ear mold. This has historically been a favorite for users with many frequencies in the severe-to-profound range of hearing.
- PRO: Very high powered. Great for more severe loss.
- PRO: Fairly easy to handle and operate
- PRO: Large enough to accommodate manual features like volume control and program change.
- CON: Unit is bulky and not very cosmetic
- CON: Sometimes awkward for phone use
Receiver in the Canal (or Ear) RIC/RIE
RIC or RIE have become a industry and consumer favorite alike in recent years. The RIC is similar to the BTE in that the hearing aid is behind the ear. Unlike the BTE, the speaker, or receiver, is attached to a thin wire and located inside the ear canal. These can often offer the most advanced technology options, such as greater wireless or bluetooth capability.
- PRO: Can typically carry all of the latest technology and processing options
- PRO: Speakers and ear tips can be changed in office
- “Universal fit” hearing aids may sound like the inferior option vs a custom made device. In reality, having the ability to choose between many different universal earpiece options can provide the specialist a whole extra degree of flexibility while tailor fitting to your specific comfort and hearing loss.
- CON: Sometimes not the ideal choice for those with very poor dexterity
Custom In the Ear ITE/CIC/IIC
These may be what you think of when you think traditional hearing aids. Custom hearing aids are built inside a plastic shell that is molded into the shape of your ear. These vary greatly in size from the tiny invisible in the canal (IIC), to the slightly larger and more visible completely in the canal (CIC), all the way up to our large full shell in the ear (ITE) device.
- PRO: the smaller units such as IIC or CIC can be extremely cosmetic
- PRO: larger custom hearing aids are very easy to insert and work making them an ideal choice for those with poor dexterity.
- CON: the custom molded shell offers little flexibility for physical fit adjustments over the life of the hearing aid
- CON: some users may feel slightly more “plugged up” depending on their hearing loss
Remember that bigger custom units will offer more power and features, while smaller units will offer greater cosmetic appeal, but less power and features!