The Different Types of Hearing Aids

Types of Hearing Aids

There are many different types of hearing aids on the market and choosing the right one can be a daunting process. 

As experienced independent hearing aid brokers, we have the information to help you make an informed decision. 

So, today we’ll be discussing the different types of hearing aids, their benefits and their disadvantages to help you decide which type of hearing aid is right for you. 

Hearing Aids 

First of all, what are hearing aids, and how do they work? 

Hearing aids are small electronic devices that amplify sound to improve hearing. There are many different types of hearing aids; however, all hearing aids are made up of three basic parts:

  1. A microphone that collects sound in the environment,
  2. An amplifier that boosts the sound level, 
  3. And a speaker that transmits the enhanced signal to your ear.

Types of Hearing Aids: Style 

There is a range of different hearing aids on the market, and one factor they vary in is style. 

Each style of hearing aid has its advantages and disadvantages. You need to consider hearing loss, lifestyle, management and cosmetics when choosing the right hearing aid style for you. 

The different hearing aid styles include:

1. Behind-The-Ear (BTE) 

BTEs are made up of two parts, one part that sits behind the ear and one part in the ear canal. This hearing aid is suitable for those with mild to profound hearing loss. 

Advantages

  • Larger and easier to insert/remove for those with dexterity issues. 
  • Larger controls (volume and program buttons) for those with dexterity issues. 
  • Large enough to include directional microphones and wireless connectivity. 
  • Power options for more severe to profound hearing losses. 
  • Rechargeable options.
  • More durable, making them a good option for those with wax problems. 
  • Allows for an ‘open fit’ to reduce the risk of occlusion (own voice echo). 

Disadvantages 

  • Less discreet.
  • Susceptible to wind noise.
  • It can pose a problem for those who wear glasses. 

Receiver-In-Canal (RIC)

2. Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) 

RIC hearing aids are made up of two parts. However, it uses a thin metal wire (receiver) with a dome or custom mould instead of a plastic tube. The hearing aid’s speaker is in the receiver, which sits in the ear rather than the body of the hearing aid. This hearing aid is suitable for those with mild to severe hearing loss. 

Advantages 

  • The receiver technology allows for clearer sound quality. 
  • Less risk of feedback due to the separation of the microphone and receiver. 
  • The receiver makes the hearing aids discreet, making them a good option for cosmetics concerns.
  • Size allows for directional microphone technology. 
  • Rechargeable options. 
  • Different power receivers allow for flexibility if hearing changes. 
  • Non-custom and quick to fit.

Disadvantages 

  • The receiver is susceptible to wax and moisture damage as it sits in the ear canal and may need frequent repairs. 
  • Susceptible to wind noise as the body of the hearing aid sits behind the ear. 
  • Can interfere with glasses.
  • It may be harder to insert/remove for those with dexterity issues. 

In-The-Ear (ITE)

3. In-The-Ear (ITE)

ITE aids are custom hearing aids made up of one part that sits in the ear. They fill either half of the ear bowl (half-shell) or the full bowl of the ear (full-shell). This hearing aid is suitable for those with mild to severe hearing loss. 

Advantages

  • Good for people with dexterity issues as it has one part and is the largest of the custom hearing aid styles. 
  • Large enough to include directional microphones and wireless technology. 
  • Large enough to include volume control and a program button.
  • Larger batteries compared to other custom aids, allowing for easier management and longer battery life. 
  • Doesn’t interfere with glasses.

Disadvantages 

  • Less discreet than other custom hearing aid types due to its large size.
  • Susceptible to moisture and wax damage as the speaker sits in the canal. 
  • More susceptible to wind noise than other custom hearing aid styles. 
  • Risk of occlusion. 

4. In-The-Canal (ITC) 

ITC aids are custom hearing aids made up of one part that sits in the ear canal. This type of hearing aid is suitable for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. 

Advantages

  • More discreet.
  • Doesn’t interfere with glasses. 
  • Large enough for onboard volume and program controls.

Disadvantages

  • Small and so may be harder to manage for those with dexterity issues. 
  • Susceptible to moisture and wax damage. 
  • It uses smaller batteries, which means a shorter battery life.

Completely-In-Canal (CIC)

5. Completely-In-Canal (CIC) 

CIC aids are custom hearing aids made up of one part that sits deeper in the ear canal. This type of hearing aid is suitable for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. 

Advantages 

  • Small and very discreet.
  • Good for traditional phone use as holding the phone to the ear does not cause feedback. 
  • Doesn’t interfere with glasses.
  • Less susceptible to wind noise. 

Disadvantages 

  • Small and so may be harder to manage for those with dexterity issues. 
  • Small batteries, which means a shorter battery life. 
  • Susceptible to moisture and wax damage.
  • Very small and usually lacks onboard controls. 
  • Some do not offer directional microphones or wireless connectivity. 
  • Not suitable for those with small/narrow ear canals.

6. Invisible-In-Canal (IIC)

IIC aids are custom hearing aids made up of one part that sits very deep in the ear canal and is invisible. This type of hearing aid is suitable for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. 

Advantages 

  • The most discreet custom hearing aid.
  • Doesn’t interfere with glasses. 
  • Good for traditional phone use as holding the phone to the ear doesn’t cause feedback.
  • Wind noise is not an issue, given its placement deep in the ear canal. 

Disadvantages

  • Susceptible to moisture and wax damage.
  • Small and harder to handle. 
  • Not suitable for those with small/narrow ear canals. 
  • Very small and usually lacks onboard controls. 
  • Small batteries, which means a shorter battery life. 

Level of Technology

Types of Hearing Aids: Level of Technology 

There are generally five different levels of hearing aid technology, including:

  • Value
  • Essential
  • Advanced
  • Premium
  • Platinum 

As you move up in level of technology, the hearing aids become more sophisticated. 

One of the major differences is how they work in noisy environments. The higher-level types of hearing aids are better at detecting background noise and reducing it while enhancing speech. This doesn’t mean that the lower-level hearing aids won’t work. However, they won’t work as well in those environments. 

The goal is to find a level of technology that suits your lifestyle, needs, wants and budget. 

Rechargeable

Types of Hearing Aids: Features 

Modern hearing aids have different features available, including: 

1. Rechargeable 

Some modern hearing aids come in rechargeable options that require you to charge your hearing aids every night by plugging them into the charger. 

These hearing aids have many advantages, including convenience, safety (small batteries are a danger to children and pets) and management (easier to handle for those with dexterity issues). 

2. Telecoil 

Some hearing aids have the option of a telecoil. A telecoil uses electromagnetic technology to connect hearing aids to phones and loop systems. The signal is then sent directly to the hearing aids, removing the barriers of distance and noise. 

Places of worship, cinemas, train stations and auditoriums are among the venues with loop systems.

3. Directional microphones 

Most modern hearing aids have directional microphones (two microphones) that allow for better hearing by reducing background noise and enhancing the important speech signal. 

4. Wireless/Bluetooth 

Most modern hearing aids have wireless connectivity, allowing you to directly connect to Bluetooth-enabled devices such as a smartphone. This allows you to control your hearing aids from your phone (via an app) and steam media/phone calls from your phone. 

You can also connect to other personal devices (tablets/laptops) and TVs through a TV streaming device. 

In a Nutshell 

There are many different types of hearing aids available, and it can be a daunting process to choose the right one for you. 

However, you don’t need to go through the research and decision-making alone. The friendly brokers at EarDeals can provide you with information on each hearing aid and help you choose the right one based on your needs and hearing loss. 

Visit our website to browse our range of hearing aids or email the team for more information. 

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