A Guide to Hearing Aid Styles
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing a hearing aid, and perhaps the most essential decision is related to the style.
There are several different styles of hearing aids, but the most commonly used are:
- Behind the ear (BTE)
- In the ear (ITE)
- In the canal (ITC)
Each of these styles offers its own benefits, so learning about each can help you to make a well-informed choice as to which style might work best for you. Below, we’ve provided a more detailed explanation of each style, starting with:
BTE hearing aids are perhaps the most well-known type of hearing aid; the kind of device that most people would imagine when they hear the term. One of the reasons BTE devices are so prolific is because they are so widely used; this style of device is suitable for all degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound.
The main component of the device – which holds the receiver, processor, microphone, and battery – sits, as one would expect, behind the ear. A plastic tube then loops hooks over the ear; this tube can be inserted into the ear using an earmold. There are also mini BTE hearing aids that use a very small earpiece that does not entirely fill in the ear canal, which is known as an open fit.
BTE devices offer excellent battery life, multiple features, and are also known for experiencing fewer problems with earwax buildup and feedback.
Suitable for users with mild to severe hearing loss, in-the-ear hearing aids are customized for each individual user, which has earned them a reputation for comfort.
Unlike BTE hearing aids, all the internal components of ITE hearing aids are located within a single piece – there’s no need for the connecting acoustic tube. This single piece sits in the outer ear bowl, with how much of the ear is covered depends on the specific style. Half-shell devices cover less of the ear bowl, while full-shell fills most of it. For added discretion, both half shell and full shell ITE devices can be flesh-colored.
All ITE hearing aids offer excellent sound quality and are also large enough to handle comfortably and accommodate a variety of different features.
In many ways, ITC hearing aids are like ITE devices: once again, all components are contained within one device. However, rather than sitting in the bowl of the ear, ITC hearing aids are designed to sit in the ear canal itself – making it one of the most discreet hearing aid options available today while still offering outstanding sound quality and usability.
Due to the smaller size of the device, ITC hearing aids are usually only suitable for mild-to-moderate hearing loss.