Alex O'Brien


The different kinds of hearing aids explained

The different kinds of hearing aids explained

Perhaps you've thought about getting a hearing aid, but, you're worried about how it will look, who to talk to, and how to know what advice is right. Hearing aids vary a great deal in price, size, special features and the way they're placed in your ear.

To clear things up a little, the following are common hearing aid styles, beginning with the smallest, least visible in the ear.

Completely in the canal (CIC) or mini CIC

This is engineered to mould inside your ear canal. It improves mild to moderate hearing loss. This type of hearing aid It is barely visible, less likely to pick up wind noise, has very small, fiddly batteries and doesn’t contain any extra features, such as volume control. It is also privy to earwax clogging the speaker.

In the ear

An in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid is custom made in two styles — one that fills most of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear (full shell) and one that fills only the lower part (half shell). Both are helpful for people with mild to severe hearing loss. It may have extra features, is slightly bigger and more noticeable, has longer battery life and may pick up more wind noises.

Behind the ear

This hearing aid hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear. A tube connects the hearing aid to a custom earpiece called an ear mould that fits in your ear canal. This type is appropriate for people of all ages and those with almost any type of hearing loss. It is traditionally the largest type of hearing aid, picks up more wind noise and is capable of more amplification.

Receiver in canal or receiver in the ear

The receiver-in-canal (RIC) and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) styles are similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid with the speaker or receiver in the canal or in the ear. A tiny wire, rather than tubing, connects the pieces.

Open fit

This style keeps the ear canal very open, allowing for low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally and for high-frequency sounds to be amplified through the hearing aid. This makes the style a good choice for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. They are less visible, make your own voice sound better to you but may be more difficult to handle due to smaller parts.

Related links:

Questions everyone should ask an audiologist

Lawn mowers can damage hearing

Deaf woman gets cochlear implants as she’s going blind