Today’s hearing aid users have a wide selection of styles to choose from. While they may differ in appearance, all aids work in the same basic way: they amplify sounds to ensure that patients with hearing loss can hear more clearly. The different hearing aid styles can be grouped into the following categories:
In-the-Canal (ITC) Styles
ITC hearing aids are worn inside the ear canal, making them virtually invisible. The electronics are housed inside a custom-molded case, and a cord attaches to the aid to make it easy to remove. While they appeal to patients seeking discretion, their small size makes the controls difficult to adjust—a hindrance for people with dexterity issues. Battery life tends to be shorter, as well. ITC hearing aids are best for mild to moderate cases of hearing loss.
In-the-Ear (ITE) Styles
ITE hearing aids are worn in the ear canal, but not as deeply as the ITC styles; a visible portion extends into the bowl-shaped concha of the outer ear. This typically contains the volume control buttons, making it easier to adjust. Because ITE aids are larger than ITC units they have a longer battery life and usually include extra features. ITE hearing aids are best for mild to severe hearing losses.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Styles
BTE hearing aids are the most visible of all styles; their electronics are contained in a housing that hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind it, with a separate earmold that is placed inside the canal. Open Fit versions do away with the earmold, leaving the canal “open” to allow sound to enter uninterrupted. Their larger size translates to many benefits: versatility, ease of use, longer battery life. BTE hearing aids are appropriate for all types of hearing loss, and Open Fit aids are especially beneficial for high-frequency losses.