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Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

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Size and Style

There are several sizes and styles of hearing aids currently available. They include:

behind the ear hearing aid

Behind-The-Ear (BTE)

Traditional Behind-The-Ear hearing aids are the most flexible hearing aids available and address the broadest range of hearing loss. A custom ear mold is made of your ear canal. This mold fits into your ear, while the hearing aid wraps around the back of your ear.

micro behind the ear hearing aid

Open Fit Miniature Behind-the-Ear

Miniature BTE devices are a new concept in hearing aids and have become more popular as a large segment of the population becomes older. The open-fit concept means your ear canal is not entirely blocked and natural sound is able to enter your ear, in addition to the amplification. These devices come in a variety of shapes and colors. They are not custom made and instead come in different sizes depending on the height and shape of your ear.

in the ear hearing aid

In-The-Ear (ITE)

Full Shell In-the-Ear hearing aids are made to fill the outer part of your ear. They have no external wires or tubes, and are very light in weight. An impression is made of your ear, and the entire hearing aid is encased in this shell.

in the canal hearing aid

In-The-Canal (ITC)

In-The-Canal hearing aids are less visible than In-The-Ear Hearing Aids. ITC’s take advantage of the ear’s natural shape and are very small and lightweight. The hearing aid is molded to the inner canal so that the sound is naturally funneled through the hearing aid.

completely in the canal hearing aid

Completely-In-The-Canal (CIC)

Completely-In-The-Canal hearing aids fit deeply into the ear canal, and are therefore the least visible. They are custom designed and fit the deepest into the ear canal. There is typically a small handle or cord on the device to assist with removing it from the ear.


This table compares the five different sizes and styles of hearing aids currently available. Your audiologist will assist you in determining which device is appropriate for you. Some consideration will be made due to dexterity and vision for purposes of changing the battery and routine cleaning.


Who is it right for?



Behind-The-Ear (BTE)

People who have all types of hearing loss

Address the broadest range of hearing loss

Most durable

May be easier to clean and maintain

Size 13 or size 675 battery (longer battery life)

May be visible depending on hair style

Some people don’t like this model when they wear eye glasses

Open Fit Miniature BTE

High frequency hearing loss, mild to moderately-severe hearing loss

Open fit allows natural sound to enter the ear

Variety of colors and styles

Fully automatic digital hearing aid

May not be appropriate for more severe hearing loss

May be visible depending on hair style

In-The-Ear (ITE)

People with mild to severe hearing loss

Fit comfortably and securely within the ear

No external wires or components, all one piece

Not recommended for people with severe-to-profound hearing loss

In-The-Canal (ITC)

People with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss

Less visible than In-The-Ear hearing aids

Small and lightweight

ITC’s are not recommended for people with:

Severe-to-profound hearing loss

Problems with finger or hand dexterity that make manipulating small controls difficult

May encounter feedback (whistling) issues with more severe hearing loss

Completely-In-The-Canal (CIC)

People with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss

The least visible of all the styles of hearing aids

Very small and lightweight

Short battery life

Certain patients cannot wear them because of the shape of their ear

May encounter more repairs due to wax clogging the hearing aid