Hearing Aid Styles
A wide range of technology and a host of features are available in each hearing aid style. The cost of hearing aids generally depends on the technology and the number of features the instrument has and not necessarily on the style selected. Today's digital hearing aids are typically offered in various technology levels, such as basic, entry, advanced or premium level.
Basic digital hearing aids generally require the wearer to make some manual adjustments in certain listening environments, such as turning a volume control up or down, or pushing a button to change listening programs. In contrast, a premium or more advanced hearing aid responds automatically to changes in the listener's environment, making changes based on the signals being detected by the hearing aid. The hearing aid wearer is not required to make any manual changes. As the level of the technology increases in hearing aids, so does the availability of advanced features. Examples of some of the advanced features found in today's digital hearing aids are shown below.
When selecting a style the following is considered:
- The degree of the hearing loss (power requirements)
- Manual dexterity and visual abilities
- Patient budget
- Skin sensitivities
- Anatomical/medical considerations
- Lifestyle and listening needs
Styles of hearing aids
Hearing aids are available in many different sizes and styles thanks to advancements in digital technology and miniaturization of the internal components. Many of today's hearing aids are considered sleek, compact and innovative – offering solutions to a wide range of hearing aid wearers.
Extended Wear Hearing Aid (Lyric)
Lyric is the first extended wear hearing device that is 100% invisible. It is comfortably placed in the ear canal and can be worn 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for up to 4 months at a time. No surgery or anesthesia is required. Lyric is positioned completely inside the ear canal, so it uses your ear's natural anatomy to funnel sound to your eardrum. This unique design and placement helps reduce background noise and feedback and provides exceptionally natural sound quality.
Invisible in canal (IIC)
The smallest custom style, IIC instruments, sit invisibly in or past the second bend of the ear canal. IIC devices are specifically designed for mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
Completely in canal (CIC)
One of the smallest custom styles, CIC instruments, fit deeply and entirely within the ear canal. They fit mild-to-moderate hearing losses and offer high cosmetic appeal, as they're nearly invisible when worn.
In the canal (ITC)
ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because they're slightly larger than CIC models, they have a longer battery life, and can host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments, and controls such as volume controls. They fit mild and moderate hearing losses.
Full shell in the ear (ITE)
Full shell models sit flush within the entire ear bowl. Their size allows the maximum number of additional controls and features such as directional microphones, which require space on the outer portion of the instrument. They use a larger battery size than the smaller styles and can fit a larger receiver with enough power for even some severe hearing losses. Because of their flexibility, they're widely recommended for mild-to-severe hearing loss.
Receiver in ear (RIC)
RIC models are mini BTEs that have the speaker of the instrument incorporated in the ear tip, instead of in the main body of the instrument. RIC instruments fit mild-to-severe hearing losses. This hearing aid style looks similar to the Mini BTE when worn on the ear.
BTE with Earmold
BTEs with earmolds fit mild through severe hearing losses. Their longer shape follows the contour behind the outer ear and can house many features, including a program button and volume control. The earmold color and style, as well as the wearer's hairstyle, determine exactly how they'll look on each person.
Bluetooth Hearing Aids
Developers of hearing aids are always looking for new and improved ways of making hearing aids better and more useful in people's lives. Bluetooth technology is being used to make it easier for hearing aid users to connect their hearing aids to various devices for improved sound quality directly from the sound source.