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

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

    Hearing aids have evolved with more selections for the hard of hearing. The quality of the devices has greatly improved and 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 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 the hard of hearing.

    Completely in the Canal (CIC)

    CIC hearing aids are the least visible of all the types as it rests inside the ear canal. It is customized to 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’s used for mild to moderate hearing loss. It is prone to repairs as ear wax clogging can damage the device.

    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 compared to 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 as it covers it completely. It is used by people with mild to severe hearing loss. 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, most durable, and has longer battery life compared to all types of hearing aids. It caters to all degrees of hearing loss. The earmold, the portion of the device which is found 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 where the receiver is placed. 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. It is preferred for people with high-frequency hearing loss. It includes multi-directional earphones which filter the sound that the user receives.

    Open Fit

    It is also known as 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

    The user of the device should also be considered in choosing hearing aids. For children, it is best to use hearing aids that are adjustable so they won’t have to be replaced frequently. 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 select hearing aids that are not inserted 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 the hard of hearing. Don’t forget to consult with your doctor when choosing the right device. Knowing the right device and appropriate hearing aids 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.


    Hearing Aids, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/otolaryngology/specialty_areas/hearing/hearing-aids/, Accessed March 17, 2021

    Types of Hearing Aids, https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/hearing-aids/types-hearing-aids, Accessed March 17, 2021

    Hearing Aids, https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/hearing-aids/, Accessed March 17, 2021

    Deafness and hearing loss, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss, Accessed March 17, 2021

    Hearing Aids, https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/hearing-aids.html, Accessed March 17, 2021

    Hearing aids: How to choose the right one, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/in-depth/hearing-aids/art-20044116, Accessed March 17, 2021

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    Written by Elaine Felicitas Updated Jun 20, 2021
    Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel