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What are the Most Common Styles of Hearing Aids?

Hearing Aid Styles

While most people know that hearing aids are used to treat hearing loss, the fact that hearing aids come in a variety of different styles is not quite so commonly known. Below, we’ve put together an introductory guide to the most common hearing aid styles and the type of hearing loss they are able to treat.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids

  • BTE hearing aids sit behind the ear, with sound then passed to the ear canal via a tube and an earmold
  • Due to their design, BTE hearing aids are the most conspicuous hearing aid style
  • However, the design of BTE hearing aids also means that they are the most broad-spectrum option, suitable for mild-to-severe hearing loss
  • BTE hearing aids are more likely to experience issues with wind noise, but are less likely to develop ear wax build-up
  • BTE devices are also very robust due to their larger size and are easier to handle and program – making them an excellent choice for individuals with dexterity concerns

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids

  • ITE hearing aids sit nestled in the bowl of the ear, so they have to be custom-made for each individual user
  • There are two different styles available: full-shell, which covers most of the ear and half-shell, which covers less
  • Full-shell ITE devices are suitable for those with mild to severe hearing loss; they are more conspicuous but have a longer battery life
  • Half-shell ITE devices are ideal for those with mild-to-moderately severe hearing loss; they are smaller and thus less conspicuous, but have a shorter battery life
  • Both full-shell and half-shell ITE hearing aids can be problematic in terms of ear wax, due to the device’s proximity to the ear canal itself

In-the-canal hearing aids (ITC)

  • ITC hearing aids are designed to fit almost entirely inside the ear canal itself, so must be custom-made for each individual user.
  • The style of ITC devices ensures maximum discretion – most people who wear ITC hearing aids report that few people can actually detect they are wearing a hearing aid
  • Unfortunately, the discretion offered by ITC hearing aids also means that the devices are smaller, which reduces their power and battery life; ITC devices are only considered suitable for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss
  • ITC hearing aids can also be difficult to handle for individuals with dexterity issues, due to their smaller size; these devices can also experience problems related to ear wax buildup
  • However, ITC hearing aids are also highly compatible with active lifestyles, which makes them a winning choice for many.

When deciding which hearing aid style is best for you, consult your audiologist for more advantages and disadvantages. Finding your best hearing aid style will improve your listening experience and your quality of life.


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