Hearing Aid Styles
Custom In The Ear Instruments
CIC (Completely In the Canal)
CIC instruments are the smallest style of hearing aid, being nearly invisible in the ear. All electronic components are housed in a custom shell that fits deeply into the ear canal. This takes advantage of the ear’s natural sound collection ability and allows for ease of telephone use.
Because of the limited space available within the housing, directional microphones are not available in CIC instruments and people with small ear canals may not be able to wear them. The best candidates for CIC hearing aids are those with a mild to moderate hearing loss and excellent manual dexterity, necessary to change the tiny size 10 battery.
ITC (In the Canal)
ITC hearing aids are a little larger than the CIC and fit into the ear canal, but not as deeply as a CIC. Because of the larger size, an ITC will accommodate such features as volume controls, directional microphones, and multiple environmental controls.
The ITC uses a 312 battery and is well suited for individuals with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Full Shell (ITE)
A full shell hearing aid is the most versatile custom in the ear hearing aid. Because of its larger size, it can accommodate more features that are easier to manipulate than the smaller custom hearing aids. These features include a full size volume control, twin directional microphones, telephone coils and multi-memory switches.
ITE instruments use a larger size 13 battery and are easier to handle for people with limited dexterity. In addition they have a wider fitting range, accomodating hearing loss ranging from mild to severe.
BTE (Behind the Ear)
BTE hearing aids, as their name implies, fit behind the ear. They come in a large range of sizes, colors (to match a person’s hair or skin tone) and feature sets. Traditional BTE aids are fit with a tube connected to a custom molded earmold (hard or soft plastic) which is worn in the ear.
BTE instruments can be fit for all hearing losses ranging from mild to very profound losses. Battery sizes are typically the larger 13 or 675 batteries, providing longer battery life than the smaller batteries.
Open Fit BTE
In recent years, open fit BTE instruments have become very popular. These instruments are very tiny and discreet. There are two types of open fit BTE instruments: Slim Tube and Receiver In Canal (RIC). Slim tube instruments have a tiny tube with a small soft plastic dome which is inserted into the ear canal. RIC instruments actually have the receiver (loudspeaker) of the hearing aid inserted into the ear canal, along with the small plastic dome. Open fit BTE instruments are very popular because of their size, appearance, comfort and more natural sound quality for the wearer’s own voice.
Open fit BTE aids are appropriate for mild to moderately severe high frequency losses. Custom earmolds may be added to enable these tiny instruments to accommodate more severe hearing losses.
Hearing Aid Accessories
Photos courtesy of Unitron and Phonak