Hearing Aid Styles

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If you are thinking about getting hearing aids for the first time, it is worth knowing more about the different hearing aid styles that you can choose from. In general, there are several different styles of hearing aids that are made for most types of hearing loss. Each has their own general design and purpose, so that when someone is diagnosed with a hearing loss there is a style that can help them the best.

Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out what style of hearing aid is best for you.


Each style of hearing aid exists to help people with particular needs, which is why we always recommend having a full hearing assessment first and foremost. Once we know more about your hearing loss, we can recommend the styles of hearing aids that would be able to help you the most.

Here is a list of all the different styles of hearing aids that we may recommend.

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Behind the Ear (BTE)

Behind-the-ear hearing aids are the most common style that you will see people wearing. They are the largest size of the other styles, but while it makes them more conspicuous it also allows them to be more powerful.

Because they are more powerful, we prescribe them to people with moderate to severe hearing loss, which is why they are more common. However, people with mild hearing loss can still choose them as well if they prefer how it sounds.

BTE hearing aids are made with all of the electronic parts within the main device, which sits behind your ear. A tube with a custom earmold then runs into your ear to direct the sound into your canal.

Receiver in the Ear (RITE)

Receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids are very similar to the RIC style. However, the receiver sits just outside of the ear on the hollow next to the canal instead of being inside it. It is meant for people who have more severe hearing loss but still want something less noticeable than BTE hearing aids.

The suitability of RITE hearing aids can depend a lot on the shape of your ear, as well as the exact severity of your hearing loss.

Completely in Canal (CIC)

Completely-in-Canal hearing aids are a more discreet version of the ITE style. It has a smaller housing unit that is fitted completely within your ear canal rather than sitting outside of it. Just how visible it is will vary between individuals depending on the shape of your ear.

CIC hearing aids are made to be fully automatic. That way, you do not have to constantly remove the device from your ear in order to make adjustments to the volume or settings.

Receiver in Canal (RIC)

Receiver-in-canal hearing aids will look similar to the BTE style. The main difference is that the housing of the device is smaller, and the receiver is inside the ear canal instead of behind the ear.

RIC hearing aids still capture sound in the housing that sits behind your ear, but it is sent to the receiver in your canal. It can have a much better sound quality and also looks more discrete thanks to the smaller size of the housing. It can be used by anyone with mild to severe hearing loss.

In the Ear (ITE)

In-the-ear hearing aids are typically more requested by our clients than the styles mentioned above, in large part due to being less noticeable. It is much smaller and is used on the outer portion of your ear canal, with no part of the device sitting behind the ear.

ITE hearing aids require a custom shell to snugly fit the natural shape of the ear, with the housing of the device containing all of the electronic components. It can help people with most levels of hearing loss, but individual people may experience different levels of usefulness from it.

Invisible in Canal (IIC)

Invisible-in-canal hearing aids are the smallest style of hearing aid you can buy. It is placed further into your ear than the others so it is impossible for anyone to tell you are wearing them unless they look directly into your ear.

IIC hearing aids need to be custom fitted so they fit properly in your ear. This also helps them use your ear’s own shape to localize sound that your ears receive to make it more natural. They are mostly meant for people who have milder hearing loss. If you have moderate to severe hearing loss, it likely would not help you as much.


CROS hearing aids are slightly outside of the six styles mentioned above. It does not have its own size or shape so much as it has a specific function that is different from the others. They are meant for people who have hearing loss in one ear so severe that hearing aids couldn’t help, but have normal hearing in the other ear.

Not being able to hear sounds from one side of your body can still affect your overall hearing. So CROS hearing aids come in a pair, with the main device on the ear that has profound hearing loss feeding sound it picks up into a device in your good ear. That way you still can more clearly hear 360 degrees of sound.

BiCROS hearing aids are similar, but meant for people whose other ear does have some hearing loss. In this case, the one CROS hearing aid feeds another hearing aid on your other side, which itself is used to receive and amplify sound for that ear.

Both CROS and BiCROS hearing aids are available in both In-The-Ear (ITE) and Behind-The-Ear (BTE) styles.

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