Did you know that 38 million Americans have experienced some level of hearing loss? You are not alone! Today's hearing aids are technological miracles. There are hearing aids to fit every budget, preference, hearing loss, and lifestyle. These powerful hearing instruments have come so far in recent years.
Hearing aids come in several shapes and sizes, but they all have the same basic "guts". Every hearing aid is battery powered and is comprised of at least one microphone to pick up sound, a computer chip to process and amplify sound as well as a speaker that sends the signal to your ear.
When you meet with our hearing professional you will be able to work together to find the style and fit that is right for your budget, lifestyle, and hearing loss.
Let's explore a little bit about these different options below so you have some knowledge going into your appointment. There are two main groups of hearing aids the In The Ear (ITE) and Behind The Ear (BTE). Each of these main categories have subcategories.
Their sizes range from virtually invisible when worn to filling the entire bowl of the ear when worn.
- Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids: IIC and CIC styles are the tiniest hearing aids made. They fit very deeply in the ear canal and are typically fit to help correct mild or moderate hearing losses. Their size and ability to “disappear” when worn depend on the size of the ear canal. Because of their tiny size, they offer high cosmetic appeal for people who desire a discreet solution.
- In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids: ITC styles sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because they are slightly larger than IIC and CIC styles, they have a longer battery life, are easier to handle and can fit a wider range of hearing losses.
- Low profile hearing aids: Low profile styles range from half-shell (HS) designs that fill half the bowl of the outer ear to designs that fill almost the entire outer ear bowl. The size of a low profile style makes it desirable for people with dexterity issues because it is easier to handle than the smaller sizes. Low profile hearing aids are large enough to accommodate helpful features like directional microphones, volume controls and program buttons.
Behind-the-ear styles have become more popular due to innovations that make the tiniest BTE hearing aids some of the most cosmetically appealing with very thin ear tubes and ear tips that fade discreetly into the ear canal. They have enough physical space to house features for a variety of hearing losses, have ample battery life and are easy to handle.
- Mini BTE hearing aids with slim tubes and tips: Mini BTE styles are designed to hide behind the outer ear and have ultra-thin tubing to discreetly route sound into the ear. This style is so popular that a greater variety of ear tips have become available in order to accommodate a greater degree of hearing loss with the mini BTE.
- Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) or receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids: RITE and RIC styles have the speaker built into the ear tip instead of the main body of the hearing aid. This allows the speaker of the hearing aid to be positioned closer to the eardrum while the microphone and processor sit in a tiny case behind the ear.
- BTE hearing aids with earmolds: BTE styles that come with earmolds can fit any type of hearing loss, from mild to profound. Their longer shape follows the contour behind the outer ear and can generally house more features, controls and power than any other style of hearing aid.