There are several basic styles of hearing aids. The styles differ by size, their placement on or inside
the ear, and the degree to which they amplify sound.
• Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids consist of a hard plastic case worn behind the ear and connected
to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The electronic parts are held in the case behind the
ear. Sound travels from the hearing aid through the earmold and into the ear. BTE aids are used by
people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss. The ear mold may be custom made to the ear or
non-custom depending on the degree of hearing loss. All levels of technology can fit into this style.
• Receiver in the canal, also referred to as a receiver in-the-ear instrument. Small, open-fit aids sit
completely behind the ear, with only a narrow tube inserted into the ear canal, enabling the canal to
remain open. In addition, some people may prefer the open-fit hearing aid because their perception of
their voice does not sound “plugged up’ and sounds more natural. All level of technology can fit into this
style, including directional microphones.
• Custom aids are custom made to the shape of your ear. They come in different sizes based upon the
amount of volume necessary for your level of hearing loss. All levels of technology are available in all
sizes but some sizes may be limited in available features based on to the size of the ear.
• In the ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely inside the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing
loss. The case holding the electronic components is made of hard plastic.
• In the canal (ITC) hearing aids fit into the bowl of the ear and are used for mild to moderately severe
• Some ITE and ITC aids may have certain added features installed, such as a telecoil. A telecoil is a
small magnetic coil that allows users to receive sound through the circuitry of the hearing aid, rather
than through its microphone. This makes it easier to hear conversations over the telephone. A telecoil
also helps people hear in public facilities that have installed special sound systems, called induction
loop systems. Induction loop systems can be found in many churches, schools, airports, and
auditoriums. Custom hearing aids are usually not worn by young children because the casings need to
be replaced often as the ear grows.
• Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid is nearly hidden in the ear canal. These are used for mild to
moderately severe hearing loss. Because they are small, CIC aids may be difficult for a person to
adjust and remove. In addition, they have less space available for batteries and additional devices, such
as a telecoil and directional microphone. They usually are not recommended for young children or for
people with severe to profound hearing loss because their reduced size limits their power and volume.