Choosing Between Different Types of Hearing Aids

There are many types of hearing aids. Some people prefer the look of one type over another. Some models are better for certain types of hearing loss, and some are easier to clean than others. Read these brief descriptions, then ask your hearing aid specialist about what might work best for you:

  • Behind-the-Ear (BTE) The main parts of the hearing aid sit behind the ear. The sound travels into the ear canal through a tube connected to a molded piece of plastic that fits in the ear. This type is most commonly used by older people and can be used for mild to serious hearing loss.
  • Open Fit This is a type of BTE hearing aid that uses a small tube instead of molding to transfer sound into the ear. Some people like this type because their own voice does not sound as strange to them as with a BTE. This type is also good for people who have a lot of wax build up in their ears--it won't be damaged by build up as much as a regular BTE.
  • In-the-Ear (ITE) This device fits completely in the outer ear. A case is molded to your ear that contains all the parts of the hearing aid. Some ITEs have features installed, such as the ability to work with telephone amplifiers.
  • In-the-Canal (ITC) This hearing aid is made to fit inside a person’s ear canal. It is very small and difficult for others to see. ITC can be used for mild to moderate hearing loss.
  • Completely-in-Canal (CIC) This hearing aid fits completely in a person’s ear canal and is also virtually unseen. CIC hearing aids can be used for mild to moderate hearing loss. These may have added cost because of the need to customize the hearing aid to a person’s ear.


    National Institutes of Health. Hearing Aid Basics. NIH Pub. No. 99-4340

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