Which Are The Most Popular Types Of Hearing Aids?

two hearing loss patients buying new hearing aids

Hearing aids are not one-size-fits-all. Instead, there are multiple different types, each offering users a unique experience. In recent years, hearing aid technology has developed tremendously. The entire industry is benefiting from miniaturization made possible by the fabulous success of the consumer electronics sector. Today, many hearing aid manufacturers are borrowing components directly from mainstream providers and incorporating them into their devices. 

There are numerous examples of this. For example, modern hearing aids have connectivity options such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. They also have powerful onboard chips and sound-modulating software to give users a better experience. 

In this post, we take a look at the various styles of hearing aids and which you might want to choose for yourself. 

Behind the Ear (BTE)

BTE is the most popular hearing aid design historically. BTE devices have two sections: one that sits inside the ear and another that fits over the back of the auricle. The part inside the ear contains the speaker while the part outside contains the battery, microphone, volume control and other components. 

Because of their large size, these hearing aids tend to offer patients the greatest functionality and features. BTEs have a long battery life, external controls, sophisticated onboard software and lots of space for connectivity options, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. 

Because they are relatively large, manufacturers can also cram in more sophisticated features. For example, they have room to install a second microphone which increases directional hearing ability. They also have space for dynamic sound environment controllers which vary the level of amplification depending on the degree of background noise. Some even have customizable chassis, allowing you to swap out one color for another. 

The disadvantage of BTEs, of course, is that they are more conspicuous than many of the newer designs. The external section of the hearing aid is quite large and there is a wire running between the two major parts. 

Being on the outside of the body, BTEs are also prone to damage. Hence, they are not always a good option for people who play contact sports, such as football and ice hockey. 

In the Ear (ITE)

ITE is a type of hearing aid that is becoming more popular. These devices are different from BTEs because they contain all their components in a single unit that sit in the outer bowl. You can think of them as being the same as BTEs without the part that hooks over the auricle. 

ITEs offer many advantages for certain users over standard hearing aids. For instance, they are more discreet because they sit flush to the ear hole. Furthermore, none of their components are housed on the exterior of the ear, making them less prone to damage in contact sports and day-to-day living. 

In the past, the amount of technology that manufacturers could cram onto an ITE device was quite small. Many only had a speaker, microphone and processor to communicate between the two. However, following miniaturization, that’s no longer the case. ITE devices now offer just as many features as their larger BTE counterparts.

Whether an ITE is right for you is very much a personal decision. Some long-time hearing aid users actually prefer the feeling of the BTE device behind the back of the ear. However, if you are new to hearing aids, you may want to explore this option further. 

In the Canal (ITC)

ITC hearing aids take the ITE concept a step further. While ITE devices are visible from the outside and have a section that covers the ear hole, ITC devices do not. Typically, you can only see them if you are up close and looking directly into the ear hole. Removing these hearing aids from your ear usually requires a magnet or special tool. 

ITC devices are much smaller than ITE and BTE hearing aids. This size limitation reduces the number of features they can have. However, it does make them almost perfectly discreet. 

ITCs are popular among patients with mild hearing loss. They tend to come with relatively small speakers, and typically offer the same basic features and BTE hearing aids of the past. However, due to improvements in technology, many options now include additional functionality, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Because they fit perfectly inside the ear, ITCs are also less prone to damage. It is possible to wear them during contact sports. Because they fit so snugly, they are unlikely to fall out. 

If you would like to learn more about different hearing aid styles and which might benefit you, contact Beltone Hearing Center Lethbridge at 403-942-4327 for more information.