Audiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating hearing-related issues
What are the Most Common Styles of Hearing Aids?
If you are choosing a hearing aid for the first time, it can be useful to learn a little background information about the different styles available. To help you in this pursuit, we have detailed the three most common styles of hearing aids, as well as a few tips on finding the right style for you.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
With BTE hearing aids, the receiver sits behind the ear and connects, via a tube, to a microphone located close to the ear canal. As one of the largest types of hearing aids available, BTE devices are known for being easy to use and can provide good battery life, though battery life is always somewhat dependent on individual usage and settings.
One of the main advantages of BTE hearing aids is that they are relatively simple to keep clean of earwax, as the device does not sit in the ear canal itself; this design also helps to limit moisture-related issues.
This style of hearing aid is suitable for individuals who are experiencing any degree of hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
There are two types of ITE devices, both of which are custom-made; “full shell” designs, which cover most of the outer ear, and smaller “half shell” designs which only partially cover the ear. Both designs are very discreet, which means they can be beneficial for those who may feel self-conscious about wearing hearing aids. Unlike BTE hearing aids, the device is a single piece with no need for a connecting tube.
ITE devices are simple to use; though they are more discreet, they still have a relatively large surface area that makes them easy to handle and helps to avoid issues such as feedback. Some ITE devices can also have cords attached to help make it easier to remove the device after use, which adds an extra layer of convenience.
ITE hearing aids can be used to treat mild to severe hearing loss.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids
ITC hearing aids are the most discreet of the three options discussed. A single device is placed just inside the ear canal; a small section of the device is usually still visible, but not noticeably so. Most ITC hearing aids use dual microphones to improve sound quality and, despite their smaller size, can provide good battery life.
Most ITC hearing aids are able to offer a number of features, such as background noise reduction, which can help to improve the overall user experience. In addition, this style of device is also comfortable to wear, as each piece will be custom-designed for the user.
ITC hearing aids are suitable for mild to mildly-severe hearing loss.
How can you decide between BTE, ITE or ITC?
Choosing which of the above styles tends to require the assistance of a hearing health professional. A specialist hearing care provider enjoys the benefits of expertise and experience, and will be able to make a recommendation based on your specific hearing needs and can also take into account your lifestyle and usage needs.