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5 Types of Hearing Aids You Should Know

By WebMD Connect to Care Staff
Medically Reviewed by Jordan Glicksman, MD, FRCSC, MPH on April 26, 2021
When choosing between hearing aids, do you know which type is best for you? There are many hearing aid styles, with both standard and advanced features, available to treat hearing loss.

In the last 20 years, hearing aids have improved in both style and function. Today’s hearing aids are smaller, nearly invisible, and some devices have advanced Bluetooth connectivity features. One of these five types of hearing aids may be just right for you.

In-the-Ear (ITE)  

An in-the-ear hearing aid, explains Mayo Clinic, is a custom-fit device made in two styles: full shell or half shell. Full-shell styles fit the entire area of your outer ear, while half-shell styles fit the lower half of your outer ear. An in-the-ear hearing aid can be used to assist all degrees of hearing loss, from mild to severe.

Features of an in-the-ear hearing aid include:

  • Long battery life
  • Volume control
  • More visibility than other hearing aids
  • Larger size compared to other types of hearing aids, making them easier to put in and remove

In-the-Canal (IIC) 

An in-the-canal hearing aid is smaller and more discreet than in-the-ear hearing aids, according to Mayo Clinic. These types of hearing aids can help mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

“They are custom-made to your ear and fit the lower third of the external part of your ear,” Leslie P. Soiles, AuD, chief audiologist at HearingLife, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

Soiles says that some of the features of in-the-canal hearing aids include:

  • A long battery life with a battery that can be easily inserted and removed
  • Several push-button controls, but not as many as behind-the-ear devices
  • A directional microphone for enhancing certain sounds while minimizing background noise

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)  

A behind-the-ear hearing aid sits behind your ear and connects to an earmold inside your outer ear, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). 

Soiles says a behind-the-ear hearing aids:

Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE)   in

A receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) hearing aid is similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid but slightly more discreet, according to Mayo Clinic.

“It is connected by a thin wire with a speaker or receiver placed inside the opening of the ear canal for optimal sound quality,” Soiles says. “A user is able to clearly identify important sounds, such as voices, while still being able to hear background noises.”

Bluetooth Hearing Aids 

Bluetooth technology can improve the experience of wearing hearing aids for both in-the-ear and behind-the-ear devices.

“Bluetooth technology allows hearing aids to become wireless earphones,” Soiles says. “The wearer further benefits through customization of volume and can hear phone calls, TV, music, and sounds from any compatible device more clearly.”

Hearing Loss Can Be Managed and Treated.

The earlier you address the symptoms of hearing loss, the more likely you are to avoid irreversible damage. Get the answers you need to start treatment today.