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Hearing Aids Types: How Do They Differ and How Can They Help?

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Elaine Felicitas · Updated Feb 21, 2023

Hearing Aids Types: How Do They Differ and How Can They Help?

With the advancement of technology, hearing aids are now available with variety of options for those who has hearing problems. The quality of the devices has greatly improved. And the device has become accessible to more people. Learn more about hearing aids types and how each works.

Hearing Aids Types and How They Work

Hearing aids are battery-operated devices that are used by people suffering from sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss occurs when your hearing nerves do not work the way they should. This type of hearing loss can happen because of the following:

  • Old age
  • Injury
  • Diseases
  • Effects of certain medicine
  • Birth defects
  • Infections

Hearing aids are devices that enhance communication between people with hearing difficulties and others. It’s made up of 3 basic components: microphone, amplifier, and speaker. 

Sound passes through the hearing aid’s microphone and is converted into electrical signals. The amplifier receives it and makes it louder. The speakers, then, send the amplified sound to the ear.

Hearing Aids Types

There are different hearing aid types that can assist patients with hearing problems such as:

Completely in the Canal (CIC)

CIC hearing aids are the least visible of all the types. This is because it rests inside the ear canal. Additionally, it is custom-fit the contours of your ear. Due to its small size, it has a shorter battery life and does not have additional features like volume control. It is preferable for mild to moderate hearing loss. It is quite a high-maintenance device as it is prone to damage due to  ear wax clogging.

In the Canal (ITC)

ITC hearing aids are custom-made to mold the person’s ear canal and ear shape. It is partly inside the ear canal and is more visible compared to CIC hearing aids. Its size limits the power and volume that this hearing aid has. It can also be used for mild and moderate hearing loss. Similar to CIC hearing aids, it can also be easily damaged due to ear wax clogging.

In the Ear (ITE)

ITE hearing aids are bigger in comparison to both ICT and CIC hearing aids. These are not custom-made and come in different standard sizes and colors. When used, it is placed securely inside the outer ear. This type of device it covers the ear completely. As with the previous types, patients with mild to severe hearing loss can use it. It includes telecoil which makes it easier to hear sounds during a phone call.

Behind the Ear (BTE)

BTE hearing aid is the most visible and the most durable. And it has longer battery life, too, compared to all types of hearing aids. Additionally, it caters to all degrees of hearing loss. The earmold—the portion use to attach the device on the outer ear, collects the sound and sends it to the ear through the tubing.

Receiver in the Ear (RITE) / Receiver in Canal (RIC)

RIC and RITE hearing aids are similar devices and, as the name implies, have different locations to where the receiver attaches. These are similar to BTE with the device placed on the outer ear.

Compared to BTE and Open Fit hearing aids, RIC and RITE send sounds to the ear using a wire instead of tubing. Patients with high-frequency hearing loss are compatible with and prefer this type of device. It includes multi-directional earphones which filter the sound that the user receives.

Open Fit

Open fit or the mini BTE, or On the Ear hearing aid. It is similar to a BTE hearing aid where there’s a part of the device that sits on the outer ear. The difference is it has a narrower tube which leaves the ear canal open. People with mild to severe hearing loss can benefit from using this hearing aid type.

Which Hearing Aids Types to Choose?

All hearing aid types are beneficial to people with hearing loss. Choosing the best hearing aid depends on the person’s medical condition, daily activities, and personal preferences.

Lifestyle and use

It is also important to consider the user of the device before choosing and buying it. It is best to use hearing aids that are adjustable if the user is a child, so that it fits the growing user. This way, it can last and be used for a long time. For the elderly, as some may have challenges with maintaining their device, they may opt for devices that are easier to clean and operate.


The hearing aid design is also important. If the person has inner ear issues, it is best to avoid hearing aids that are fit to insert in the ear canal. For people who want more additional functionalities, it would be better to choose larger hearing aids such as BTE or ITE hearing aids. The size can accommodate the additional functionality and the battery life.

Personal preference

In terms of personal preference, there are people who want to make their hearing aids less visible. The CIC and ITC hearing aids have a smaller size compared to the other devices. Some prefer their hearing aids not plugging up their ear canals which the Open Fit hearing aid addresses.

Key Takeaways

Hearing aids are medical devices that improve communication for patients with hearing problems. Don’t forget to consult with your doctor when choosing the right device, because knowing appropriate hearing aid types for your case enhances the experience of using it.

Learn more about Ear Conditions here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Elaine Felicitas · Updated Feb 21, 2023

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