Are There Different Types of Hearing Aids?


If everybody in Santa Barbara were exactly alike, a single type of hearing aid might suffice. But how boring would a real-life version of “Where’s Waldo?” be? Fortunately, we live in a world where – with few exceptions – no two people are identical. Every case of hearing loss is also unique, which means a one-size-fits-all solution is impossible. Not to worry; there are a wide variety of hearing aids available to address not only your individual hearing loss but also your lifestyle, cosmetic, and budget preferences.

Hearing Aid Types

Woman trying on different types of hearing aids

When it comes to selecting a hearing aid, there are so many choices out there, finding the right one may feel overwhelming. But your Santa Barbara audiologist is happy to help.

Keep in mind that despite a great deal of variation in looks and size, all hearing aids operate on the same principle – they amplify sounds so you can hear better and communicate more effectively. And they are all made from the same basic parts; every hearing aid contains a microphone, amplifier, and receiver, and is powered by a battery. The differences are mostly cosmetic in nature.

Hearing aids are available in six basic styles. There may be minor differences between each manufacturer’s product lineup, but any variation in design is subtle. There are positives and negatives with each type of hearing aid; your audiologist will help you narrow down your choices and provide recommendations based on your specific needs.

The basic hearing aid types are:

Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE)

RITE hearing aids contain a miniature housing that includes all the electronics except for the receiver, which is worn in the concha of the ear and connected to the housing with a thin tube. The RITE is small, discreet, and powerful. It’s an excellent choice for patients with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

BTE hearing aids have long been popular, especially with children and the elderly. Simple to use, they accommodate all types of hearing loss. The housing, which contains the electronics, matches the contour of the ear and rests directly behind it. It is connected to the receiver in the ear canal via a thin tube. The BTE is larger and more visible than most of the other types, but is ideal for those with dexterity issues and features an impressive battery life.

Open Fit

Open Fit hearing aids are basically smaller versions of the BTE minus the receiver. Because the ear canal is left unobstructed, there is less occlusion (blockage). It is smaller and more discreet than a BTE, as well. The Open Fit is a great choice for patients experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss, especially in the higher frequencies.

In-the-Canal (ITC)

As their name implies, ITC hearing aids are worn in the ear canal, with only a small portion visible to the naked eye. They are custom made from impressions of your ear canals and feature a one-piece design. ITC hearing aids are good options for patients experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss.

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC)

CIC hearing aids are the smallest available. They are placed deep in the ear canal with only a tiny portion of the face visible. CIC hearing aids take advantage of the ear’s natural ability to collect sound. The one-piece design is custom molded to fit your ear canals. CIC hearing aids are excellent for patients with mild to moderate hearing loss who don’t wish to draw attention to themselves.

In-the-Ear (ITE)

ITE hearing aids are worn in the lower bowl-shaped portion of the outer ear. They are larger than those designed for the ear canals, but are lightweight, compact, easy to manage, and have a longer battery life. Patients with severe to profound hearing loss will benefit from this type of hearing aid.

Still have questions about the different hearing aid styles available? Contact your Santa Barbara audiologist for more information on any of these styles!

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