CIC - Completely-in-the-Canal
CIC hearing aids (sometimes referred to as Micro CICs) are small and discreet hearing aids that are nearly invisible when worn deep inside the ear canal. This style of hearing aid was very popular when first introduced into the marketplace due to its superior cosmetics. A downside to this style is smaller battery size (usually lasting around 5-7 days). As well, its small size is not good for those who may have trouble with dexterity. It is also contraindicated for people who have good low frequency hearing. This is because it "plugs" up the good hearing and results in difficulties adjusting to the sound of your own voice.
IIC - Invisible or In the Canal
Currently Starkey is the best manufacturer of this particular style of aid. Starkey is a company based in Minneapolis, MN and has been known for its CIC shell making. They tend to be able to fit the circuitry of a hearing aid into a very small ear canal and make it comfortable. In 2010, they introduced the otolense aid which fits deeper than any CIC we have seen. Their current smallest IIC is called SoundLens. Other manufacturers can now make this style of hearing as well, but Starkey is still the smallest.
This hearing aid is priced at the higher end of the price range and is good for those who have a large enough ear canal and who want the aid to be completely invisible. To change memory of volume settings on this style of hearing aid, you can use your mobile or landline phone as the hearing aid is programmed to recognize the sound of the # sign to change settings.
ITC - In the canal
At this size, we can fit two microphones onto the shell of the hearing aid which allows for better hearing in noise. This is because two microphones, or directional microphones will adapt to your environment allowing the hearing aid to "zoom" in front when the background noise increases. As well the hearing instrument is large enough to incorporate technology so that the aids will communicate back and forth. This means, that if you push the memory button on one side, it will change the memory or volume in both ears.
ITE - In the Ear
ITE aids are larger than ITC aids and are custom molded to fit in the bowl or concha of your ear. An impression of your ear canal and concha are made in the clinic, and sent to the manufacturer who creates a shell to fit your ear. ITE aids can either fit the complete bowl of your ear, or you can get a half shell style, which is slightly smaller. Both types are easier for battery insertion as well as inserting into your ear.
BTE - Behind the Ear
BTE aids are by far the most versatile of styles. The circutry sits in the back of the ear and a custom made earmold fits into the bowl of the ear. The Audiologist is able to modify the earmold to best suit the hearing loss. Because they sit behind instead of in the ear, they are more protected from the wax and humidity of the ear canal, which generally reduces repairs and lengthens the life of the instrument. BTE aids are suitable for all degrees of hearing loss and can fit many optional features such as a telecoil or FM for better hearing. They also come in a variety of colours.
RITE, or RIC -Receiver in the ear
This is the newest form for hearing aids. It has been a wonderful advancement for people who have a mild to moderate high frequency hearing loss. It allows the ear canal to stay open and the instrument enhances the high frequencies to improve speech clarity. Many people choose this style because of its superior cosmetics as well as lightweight feel. My experience with this style is that it is very easy to get used to because the feeling of it in your ear quickly disappears. It is also versatile because as your hearing changes, the audiologist just needs to change the shape of the dome that sits in your ear. It also comes in a variety of colors usually to match hair color.
Extended Wear Hearing Aid
Extended wear hearing aids are hearing devices that are non-surgically placed in the ear canal by an Audiologist. The concept was invented by Adnan Shennib who is the founder of InSound Medical. These devices are worn for 1–3 months at a time without removal. They are made of soft material designed to contour to each user and can be used by people with mild to moderately severe hearing loss. They work by directing sound into the ear canal from the outer ear. While traditional BTE or ITC hearing aids require daily insertion and removal, extended wear hearing aids are worn continuously and then replaced with a new device. Users can change volume and settings with the aid of a wand. The devices are very useful for active individuals because their design protects against moisture and earwax and can be worn while exercising, showering, etc. Because the device’s placement within the ear canal makes them invisible to observers, extended wear hearing aids are popular with those who are self-conscious about the aesthetics of BTE or ITC hearing aid models. As with other hearing devices, compatibility is based on an individual’s hearing loss, ear size and shape, medical conditions, and lifestyle. The disadvantages include regular removal and reinsertion of the device when the battery dies, inability to go underwater, earplugs when showering, and for some discomfort with the fit since it is inserted deeply in the ear canal in the only part of the body where skin rests directly on top of bone.
Sonova group, purchased the lyric technology from InSound Medical Group and now Phonak distributes it as part of its line of hearing instruments. On February 25, 2011, the Audiologists at Broadmead and Oak Bay hearing clinics have been hand selected to receive training to become one of a select few who are able to fit this style of hearing instrument.
BAHA - Bone Anchored Hearing Aids
This is a surgically implanted hearing aid that is appropriate for people who have single sided deafness, or whose hearing loss is a result of problems from the middle ear that cannot otherwise be surgically remediated. The BAHA uses the skull as a pathway for sound to travel to the inner ear. An ENT surgeon implants a titanium screw into the mastoid bone just behind and above the ear. The screw takes 3 months to ossio-integrate into the skull, then the Audiologist fits the hearing aid portion onto the screw (or abutment) that is permanently affixed to the skull. The hearing aid can be snapped on or off at the users discretion. This hearing aid is especially beneficial for people who have otherwise had problems using hearing aids due to drainage from the ear canal or difficulties with the shape of the ear canal.
One hearing instrument manufacturer Oticon, has developed a BAHA that has been shown in studies to be the most preferred type of BAHA implant.
As you can see, there are several styles of hearing aids to choose from and the Audiologists at Broadmead and Oak Bay hearng clinics have the expertise to guide you to the right solution for your unique needs.