What are the differences in today’s hearing aid styles?

 

There is a wide variety of hearing aid styles available in the market, especially in regards to their size and the way they’re placed in or around your ear. When looking for hearing aids, all the information and options available can be overwhelming!

 

To help, we’ve listed the most common styles of hearing aids available, along with some plusses and minuses. Please note, not all styles are right for every individual, so your hearing healthcare provider should help you determine which style is best for you based on your needs and budget.

 

Hearing aids come in two categories, custom and standard.

 

Custom hearing aids

Custom hearing aids are hearing aids that are individually made for each patient by taking earmold impressions and “molding” the hearing aids to fit each unique ear shape. Starkey Hearing Technologies was one of the first manufacturers to introduce and perfect custom hearing aids, and is considered the industry leader in this category.

 

Standard hearing aids

Standard hearing aids are hearing aids that can be fit “off the shelf” while you’re in the hearing professional’s office (impressions and earmolds aren’t always required). The fitting/programming is still customized for each patient, although the device may not be.

 

Let’s look at the four types of custom hearing aids that Starkey Hearing Technologies and other manufacturers offer, from smallest to largest:

 

Invisible-In-the-Canal (IIC) hearing aids rest in the second bend of the ear canal, where virtually nobody can see them.

 

 

Plusses:

  • Smallest and least visible type
  • Completely invisible in most ears
  • Deep placement of the hearing aid in the ear improves overall sound quality and the sound of the hearing aid wearer’s own voice

 

Minuses:

  • Uses small batteries, which can be difficult to handle for those with dexterity concerns
  • Due to small battery size, batteries need to be changed more often than those in larger hearing aids
  • Due to small size, cannot include controls (i.e., volume and memory) on the device

 

Completely-In-Canal (CIC) hearing aids fit deep inside the ear canal, and are slightly larger in size than an IIC.

 

Plusses:

  • Among the smallest and least visible type

 

Minuses:

  • Uses small batteries, which can be difficult to handle for those with dexterity concerns
  • Due to small battery size, batteries need to be changed more often than those in larger hearing aids

 

In-The-Canal (ITC) hearing aids fit partially in the ear canal, and are slightly larger than CIC hearing aids.

 

Plusses:

  • Less visible in the ear than larger custom styles
  • Can include controls (i.e., volume and memory) that won’t fit on smaller custom hearing aids

 

Minuses:

  • Patients with poor dexterity may experience difficulty using the controls (i.e., volume and memory) on these devices
  • Partially visible in the ear

 

In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids can be made in two styles or sizes, one that fills most of the outer ear (full shell), and one that fills only the lower portion of the outer ear (half shell

Plusses:

  • Can include controls (i.e., volume and memory) that don’t fit on smaller style hearing aids
  • Easier to handle/manipulate
  • Larger battery provides a longer battery life

 

Minuses:

  • May pick up more wind noise than smaller custom devices
  • More visible in the ear than smaller custom devices

 

Starkey Hearing Technologies offers two types of standard hearing aids:

 

Behind-The-Ear (BTE)

A BTE hearing aid hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear. All of the mechanics of the hearing aid, including the receiver (or speaker), are housed in the device that fits behind the ear. A tube connects the device to an earpiece that fits in your ear.

 

Plusses:

  • Larger external controls, helpful for patients with dexterity problems
  • Useful for children because of their durability and ability to connect to assistive listening devices
  • Can offer a longer battery life
  • Less susceptible to damage by earwax or moisture

 

Minuses:

  • Least discreet hearing aid style

 

Receiver-In-Canal (RIC)

A RIC hearing aid is similar in appearance to a BTE hearing aid except the receiver, or speaker, is in the ear canal. Instead of a tube, a small wire connects the hearing aid to the earpiece. Sometimes you’ll see a RIC hearing aid referred to as a Receiver-In-The-Ear (RITE) hearing aid.

 

Plusses:

  • Because the receiver is not housed in the device, RICs are typically smaller and more discreet than BTEs
  • Offers a comfortable open-fit, allowing for a natural sound quality of the hearing aid wearer’s own voice

 

Minuses:

  • Susceptible to earwax and moisture clogging the speaker

 

Remember that the key to a good hearing aid fitting is not the hearing aid alone, but working with a professional you trust and who can help you choose and fit the right hearing aid for your unique needs.

 

This blog was originaly published on Starkey.com.

Q: What is a hearing aid dryer and do I need one?

 

A: Following your hearing professionals’ recommendations on the care and maintenance of your hearing aids is important and can reduce the number of repairs required during the life of your hearing aids. Storing your hearing aids in a safe, dry place overnight can help prevent hearing aid malfunction caused by moisture and debris.

 

That is why many hearing professionals recommend storing your hearing aids in a Dry & Store® container. This dehumidifying storage box provides a safe, inexpensive nighttime storage option for your hearing aids while not in use. The storage system is designed to safely remove moisture from your hearing aids.

 

There are many types of Dry & Store containers. Some require electricity, while other non-electric models use a desiccant or gel to absorb moisture. Discuss these at-home dehumidifying options with your hearing healthcare provider to see which type is recommended for your style of hearing aids.

 

You can purchase the Dry & Store system from your hearing professional or from a number of online retailers. Once you’ve decided which model is best for you, keep your Dry & Store in a convenient spot that reminds you to put your hearing aids inside while not in use.

 

Remember to clean the battery contacts of your hearing aids and remove any visible wax or debris before placing your hearing aids inside the dryer. Leave the battery doors of your hearing aids open while storing them inside. Leaving the battery doors open will allow air to circulate through the hearing aids, permitting any moisture that is trapped inside to escape. Leaving the battery doors open while they are not in use will also help preserve the battery life of your hearing aids.