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Types of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids can range from being completely invisible in-the-ear, to large and powerful behind-the-ear devices. Here is a list of hearing aid styles, from smallest to largest:

Most Popular Options

RIC (receiver-in-canal)

Discreet & Performance

IIC Hearing Aids

Totally Invisible

RIC (receiver-in-canal)

Features

  • Most natural sound quality
  • Very comfortable
  • Suitable for mild to profound hearing losses
  • Very discreet
  • Large enough for advanced technology like Bluetooth & rechargeability
  • Receiver wire needs replacing

Advantages

Most natural sound quality:

Unlike custom style hearing aids that block off the ear canal, RIC style devices allow for the ear canal to remain open, allowing certain sounds to pass through the ear canal as they naturally would without being amplified. This results in a more natural sound quality.

Most comfortable fit:

As a result of the ear canal being left mostly open, RIC hearing aids feel more comfortable than other styles. In fact, many wearers report that they completely forget they are wearing their RIC hearing aids.

Suitable for mild to severe hearing losses:

RIC hearing aids can be adjusted to suit mild all the way to profound hearing losses.

Very discreet fitting:

Manufacturers have spent hours designing the hearing aid to precisely match and be hidden by the natural contour of the ear. As a result, RIC devices are so discreet that others rarely notice if you are wearing one. The receiver wire that leads into the ear canal is very thin and the hearing aid behind the ear can be matched to most hair colours.

Large enough for latest technology like Bluetooth & recharge-ability:

When you buy a RIC hearing aid, you never have to wonder if you’re getting state of the art technology. Anytime a manufacturer releases new technology, it’s always available in their RIC hearing aid styles first. With everyone glued to their phones these days, many people want Bluetooth style hearing aids, and if that sounds like you then the RIC is probably the style you should buy.

Disadvantages

Receiver wire needs replacing:

The receiver wire is the weakest link on a RIC hearing aid. It is normal to replace a receiver wire every year or two, sometimes even more. These wires get brittle over time, or simply get overwhelmed with wax or oil and need to be replaced. Receivers usually have a multi-year warranty which matches the warranty of the hearing aids. However, once the warranty has expired receivers can range from $75-$150 each.

IIC Hearing Aids

Features

  • The most discreet fit possible
  • Reduced wind noise
  • Less likely to feedback
  • Short battery life, 2-5 days
  • Small parts require great dexterity
  • Limited features due to size
  • More likely to break down needing repairs
  • Not suitable for severe to profound hearing loss

Advantages

The most discreet fit possible:

If ultimate discretion is important, there really is no other choice. Sitting deep in the second bend of the ear canal, IICs are the most hidden hearing aids. The IIC is one of the new types of hearing aids in the last decade for people who want their hearing aids hidden.

Reduced wind noise:

The microphone of an IIC sits deep in the ear protected from the wind, preventing wind from being amplified.

Less likely to feedback / whistle:

Because IICs fit just millimeters from the ear drum, less volume is needed from the hearing aid. As a result, it’s less likely to feedback or whistle.

Disadvantages

Short battery life, 2-5 days:

IIC devices use the smallest batteries which don’t last very long and need to be changed every 2-5 days.

Small parts require great dexterity:

Because IICs are so small, changing batteries and general maintenance requires excellent dexterity. If you have poor feeling in your fingers IICs may not be a great choice.

Limited features due to size:

In order to make IICs as small as possible, the manufacturer can only leave room for essential features. As a result, they can’t fit many of the advanced features like Bluetooth, directional microphones or background noise reduction in these tiny devices.

More likely to break down needing repairs:

The ear canal contains sweat, wax and moisture. This is not a great environment for the fine electrical components within hearing aids. Because IICs sit entirely within the ear canal, its parts are worn down more rapidly and will need repair.

Not suitable for severe to profound hearing loss:

IICs are so small that they can’t generate the power that larger hearing aids can. This means if you have severe to profound hearing loss IICs will not work for you.

Contact us for more information about our Hearing Aid accessories!

Other Options Available

CIC (completely-in-canal)

Features

  • Discreet
  • Easier to manipulate than an IIC because it’s larger
  • Short battery life, 2-5 days.
  • Small parts require great dexterity
  • Limited features due to size
  • More likely to break down needing repairs
  • More likely to alter sound of user’s own voice

Advantages

Discreet:

Though not the most discreet style, these devices are still almost invisible and remain barely noticeable. Other may notice the skin coloured faceplate if they look into your ear.

Easier to manipulate than an IIC because it’s larger:

Although still requiring good dexterity, CICs are easier to handle and maintain as they are a few millimeters larger than CICs.

Disadvantages

All the disadvantages associated with IIC devices also apply to the CIC style, in addition to:

More likely to alter sound of users own voice:

The CIC doesn’t fit deep within the bony portion of the ear canal like the IIC does and can cause a “plugged up” sensation like you are talking with your head in a bucket.

ITC (in-the-canal)

Features

  • Large enough for controls and advanced features
  • Easy to manage
  • More likely to break down needing repairs
  • More likely to amplify wind noise

Advantages

Large enough for controls and advanced features:

ITCs have enough room for a button that allows you to alter settings like noise reduction and volume. Although most hearing aids function automatically or though an app, on-board controls provide extra flexibility. ITCs are the smallest custom style that will allow for advanced features such as Bluetooth streaming, directional microphones and, more recently, recharge-ability.

Easy to Manage:

ITC hearing aids are much easier to handle and maintain.

Improved battery life vs IIC and CIC:

Size 312 batteries commonly last 7 to 10 days.

Disadvantages

More likely to break down needing repairs:

Like all hearing aids that sit in the ear canal, ITC hearing aids are more likely to need ongoing repairs.

More likely to amplify wind noise:

The microphone on an ITC hearing aid sits in the bowl of the outer ear canal and is therefore more exposed to wind that IIC and CIC models.

To learn more about Hearing Aids, call our friendly team today!

ITE (in-the-ear)

Features

  • Large enough for on-board controls & advanced features
  • Easy to handle
  • Great battery life of 7-14 days
  • Very noticeable
  • More likely to amplify wind noise

Advantages

Very easy to handle:

The ITE is probably the easiest hearing aid style to manage – both with regard to inserting it, activating controls and maintaining it.

Great battery life of 7-14 days:

ITE hearing aids can use a large size 13 battery that lasts for weeks.

Large enough for controls & advanced features:

Just like the ITC style, ITE devices have plenty of room for both controls and whatever advanced technology becomes available.

Disadvantages

Very noticeable:

If discretion is important to you then you may not be happy with the visibility of the ITE style.

More likely to amplify wind noise:

Like, ITCs, the microphone on an ITE hearing aid is exposed to wind which can sound like a turbulent and amplified “shh” sound.

BTE (behind-the-ear)

Features

  • Most reliable style
  • Low maintenance
  • Most powerful style
  • Very noticeable
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Tubing needs replacing

Advantages

Most reliable style:

Both the microphone and receiver are hidden behind the ear and away from the wax and sweat of the ear canal. This prevents the device being damaged or blocked and results in a style that lasts longer and requires less repairs.

Low maintenance:

There isn’t much that can go wrong with a BTE. They require simple and routine cleaning to prevent excessive wax and moisture buildup.

Most powerful style:

The BTE style is always the strongest style a hearing aid manufacturer makes.

Wide fitting range:

Just like RIC hearing aids, BTEs have a pretty wide fitting range. They can be worn “open-fit” with a small silicone dome in the ear, or with a custom earmold to provide more power.

Large enough for latest technology like Bluetooth & rechargeable batteries:

Just like the RIC style, BTE hearing aids have room for the latest technologies like Bluetooth, directional microphones, and rechargeable batteries.

Easy to put on and take off:

BTE are by far the easiest devices to manage and maintain. The custom moulds are easy to insert and stay firmly in position.

Disadvantages

Tubing needs replacing:

The only maintenance these devices require is routine retubing. Over time the tube can get hard, cracks and leaks sound which causes whistle (feedback). Re-tubing is quick, easy and inexpensive.

Very noticeable:

Although not seen as a disadvantage by many, the visibility may discourage those to whom discretion is important.

How To Choose The Right Hearing Aid For You

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    1. Assess your hearing loss & hearing difficulties
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    2. Evaluate your lifestyle
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    3. Identify the unique features you need
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    4. Consider the latest technology from a range top quality, trusted brands
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    5. Match your needs to the ideal, tailor made technology

Find out more about specific features designed around your needs

Brands We Recommend

We only fit world class, top quality hearing aids from leading manufacturers. We source the most suitable devices from whichever manufacturer has developed the most advanced and effective devices at the time. We do not choose or prescribe on behalf of any manufacturer, so we are free to move between them to ensure we access the very latest, state-of-the-art innovations. The brands we recommend all have huge research and development departments and are at the cutting edge of hearing device innovation.

Read What Our Happy Clients Have to Say

Hearing Aid Reviews & Technology

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Experiencing hearing loss? Call our friendly team to discuss today!