What types of types of hearing aids are available?

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Modern hearing aids

There’s a hearing aid for nearly any type of hearing difficulty – and you can choose one based on your personal needs and preferences.

Most hearing aids have one or two microphones, an amplifier and a speaker (also called a “receiver”). Sounds are absorbed by the microphones, processed into electrical signals and then delivered amplified to your ear. The good news is that hearing aids are much smaller and more discreet than in the past.

Hearing aid categories

1. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids

BTE hearing aids work for all degrees of hearing loss. They fit comfortably, and their small size makes them hardly visible behind the ear. Amplified sounds are led directly into your ear canal via a thin, almost invisible tube. A custom-made earpiece (earmould) maximises your comfort and fit.

BTE devices have more space for electronics compared to other designs. This allows for a wide range of technical options including stronger amplification and wireless connectivity.

2. Receiver-in-canal (RIC)/external receiver aids

Smaller than standard BTE models, RIC hearing aids are available for mild to severe hearing loss. These devices are worn comfortably and almost invisibly behind the ear. Unlike BTE devices, RIC models have a loudspeaker or “receiver” located outside of the housing at the end of a thin cable. This delivers sound into the ear canal near the eardrum. RIC devices require less distance to transmit sound which means lower energy use and longer battery life.

3. In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are worn entirely in the auricle, or ear canal. The ITE hearing aid electronics are packaged into a custom-made hollow shell. This way ITE devices can make use of the anatomical advantages of the external ear. An ITE device works well for people with mild to severe hearing loss.

In-the-ear hearing aids come in three types: in the ear, partly in the ear canal or completely in the ear canal (CIC) (this makes them 100% invisible). Models worn in the ear canal may not be suitable for everyone as your ear anatomy must be able to fit the device. Modern behind-the-ear devices are also very discreet and attractive. Even if you can’t wear an ITE device, people will still hardly notice you wear a hearing aid.

Did you know?

On average, people with hearing loss live with this condition for seven to 12 years before getting help with their hearing problems. Read some steps to better hearing.

Our Hearing Aid Guide was written for you

Learn about hearing aids, hearing loss and more

What is in a hearing aid

The causes of hearing loss

The different types of hearing aids

The first step: a hearing test with a Hearing Care Professional

List of devices/market overview

What to expect from modern hearing aids

How modern hearing aids are built

The Hearing Care Professional provides customized solutions

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