Hearing with an Aid

Hearing Aid Designs

Hearing Aids > Designs
    BTE / OTE / RIC
    ITE full / ITE half
    CIC / IIC

There are four major hearing aid design types, and at least eight separate design classifications which are available in the market today. Each design offers a unique mix of fit, visibility, and available functionality. Knowing the different designs available will help you find one that works best for your individual needs.
The BTE is a behind-the-ear design where the electronics sit in a module that fits behind the ear lobe and connects via a plastic arch to the earpiece which sits inside the ear lobe. This is the most traditional design. Newer variations include the OTE (over-the-ear), which runs a flexible tube rather than a stiff plastic connector to the earpiece, and the RIC (receiver-in-canal), which uses a smaller earpiece that fits inside the ear canal.

The ITE is an inside-the-ear design where the entire hearing aid sits inside the outer lobe of the ear. A full-shell ITE takes up the entire inner bowl of the outer lobe, while a half-shell ITE takes up only the lower portion of the inner bowl of the lobe.

The ITC is an inside-the-canal design which is smaller than the ITE and sits partially in the inner bowl of the outer ear and partially inside the actual ear canal. It is more discreet than a BTE or ITE, but is still visible to others.

The CIC is a completely-inside-the-canal design that fits entirely within the ear canal and is virtually invisible from the outside. In most cases, the only way to see it is by looking directly into the user's ear. An even more discreet hearing aid is the IIC, an invisible-in-the-canal design that fits deeper into the ear canal and is undetectable from virtually any angle of observation.

Although smaller designs may be more attractive from a cosmetic standpoint, they are generally less powerful as far as actual sound amplification and may not be practical for all hearing loss levels.

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