What determines the style of hearing aids I should wear?
Provided by:The American Academy of Audiology (www.audioogy.org)
There are four primary styles of modern hearing aids. They
are: Behind-The- Ear (BTE); In-The-Ear (ITE), In-The-Canal
(ITC), and Completely-In-The-Canal (CIC). Completely In the
Canal (CIC) In The Canal (ITC) In The Ear (ITE) Behind The
Ear (BTE) While many people choose style based on vanity,
decisions regarding which style of hearing aids are most appropriate
for you may need to be based on a variety of factors.
Physical factors include:
1. The shape of your outer ear: deformed outer ears may not
allow for wearing of BTE styles.
2. The depth of the depression near the ear canal (technically
called the concha): if your ears are very shallow there may
not be adequate space for certain ITE model aids.
3. The ear canal size and shape: certain ear canals may be
too narrow or shaped in a manner such that ITC or CIC hearing
aids will either not go in easily, or may fall out too easily.
4. Manual dexterity: not only is the removal and insertion
of canal style hearing aids difficult for some people, but
some individuals are unable to insert the battery or manipulate
the volume control.
5. Wax in the ear: some people build up large amounts of
earwax, or may have extremely moist ear canals that require
adequate ventilation. For these people ITC, or even certain
full size ITE aids may not be appropriate.
6. Draining ears or ears otherwise having medical problems
may not be able to safely utilize hearing aids that completely
block the ear canal. For these ears, it is vital to allow
ventilation so hearing aids that do not fully block the ear
may be required. Sometimes, BTEs that are connected to earmolds
that have large vents (openings to let air pass through) are
Hearing related factors include:
1. The shape of the audiogram (hearing test); individuals
who have hearing loss for certain pitches (frequencies) but
not others, (for example those who hear the low frequencies
fine, but have a high frequency hearing loss) may be better
served by systems that do not fully block the ear canal.
2. Degree of loss; currently, severe and profound hearing
losses are best served by BTE style aids. This style may also
minimize the likelihood of feedback (whistling).
3. The need for special features such as directional or multiple
microphones and/or the use of a telecoil (a small magnetic
loop contained in the hearing aid that allows for better use
with telephones or assistive listening devices), may dictate
the preferred style.
4. Acoustic feedback (whistling) occurs when the microphone
is close to the loudspeaker. BTE aids have a clear advantage
over the smaller ITE or ITC aids because feedback is less
likely to occur. While you may feel that you will only wear
an inconspicuous device, check the appearance of a small or
mini-BTE aid coupled to the ear with an open earmold. A mini-BTE
aid connected to the ear with an open earmold may be less
conspicuous than most ITE and many ITC aids. Most importantly,
discuss the pros and cons of different styles with your audiologist.