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Hearing Aid Styles

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The different types of hearing aids are:

Invisible-In-Canal hearing aids (IIC)

Custom made in-ear digital hearing aids first introduced by Starkey in 2010.

IIC’s are extra small and can be sat deep into the ear canal out of sight. Now available with power speakers for severe hearing losses, but as these are larger they may not fit smaller ear canals.

The latest IIC hearing aids are listed here

Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)

Very small and discreet in-ear hearing aids offering excellent discretion. Some of the latest technology found in equivalent model ITE and ITC’s is sacrificed due to the small size of these hearing aids (i.e. dual microphones and telecoils).

There are now several power CICs on the market catering for people with severe hearing losses who require cosmetic appearance.

Modular CIC / IIC Hearing Aids

These are non-custom, one size, off-the-shelf, very discreet in-ear advanced hearing aids. They could be classed as IIC or CIC depending on how well they sit in the patients ear canal. These hearing aids are secured in the ear canal with different sized click-on domes that click on to the hearing aids. Currently only one supplier offers these.


Compare all invisible hearing aids

In-the-Canal (ITC)

Slightly larger than the CIC hearing aids but with improved performance for speech in noise due to the extra features available including dual microphones, Bluetooth™ compatibility, and Telecoil loops (for use in churches and theatres).

The ITC and ITE offers easier insertion than the CIC for people with manual dexterity issues.

In-the-ear (ITE)

The largest of the in-the-ear hearing aids often called ‘full shell’ & ‘half shell’ offering more power for clients with more severe hearing losses who don’t want to wear behind the ear hearing aids.

These are less common nowadays with the advent of the more versatile RIC/RITE options and more powerful CIC hearing aids.

Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC)

Also known as receiver-in-the-ear (RITE)

The receiver unit (or more logically, the speaker unit) sits in the ear canal and is connect to a very small behind the ear hearing aid device via a conductive wire in a very thin tube. This solution has less distortion than the older OTE solution (shown below). The speaker is secured via a push or click on dome to sit comfortably in the ear canal and to suit the patients loss for maximum clarity. Or using a custom made shell we can fit these hearing aids to cater for quite severe hearing losses.

On-the-ear (OTE’s)

The original open-fitting hearing aid solution.

All components are housed in the actual hearing aid body (i.e. the microchip, microphone and speaker). The the hearing aid sits behind the ear and is connected to the ear canal via a slim open tube which the sound is transmitted through. There will naturally be some distortion of the sound in these models. The tube is secured in the ear canal using a push on or click on dome to suit the patients ear canal size and hearing loss.

Behind-the-ear (BTE’s)

Traditional style hearing aids fitted with an earmould (generally silicone or acrylic) that fills the ear.

Modern BTEs now have sleeker bodies and multi-colour designs and incorporate much higher specification technology than those available from the NHS.

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