Just as computers have changed from being big desktop units, to small phones and tablets you can carry in your pocket, hearing devices have also been miniaturized.
Today, hearing aids come in a wide range of styles, with some models inserted deep into the ear canals, where they are barely visible.
Hearing devices are named for where they are placed in the ears. Styles include:
Extended Wear. Extended wear hearing aids (Lyric devices) are placed very deeply in the ear canal and are designed to be worn for up to 90 days at a time. They remain in place while the user engages in his or her normal daily routine (including exercising, showering and sleeping). These are a good choice for individuals with mild to moderately severe hearing loss, especially if they are active.
Invisible In the Canal (IIC). This model sits deep in the canal: not as deep as the extended wear devices but deeper than the CIC (see below). Depending on the size and shape of your ears, the IICs sit in the shadow of the opening of the ear canal and are practically invisible. This means it needs less amplification, but because it is so small, its performance may be diminished by earwax. Appropriate for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Completely In the Canal (CIC). These hearing aids are custom molded and placed inside the ear canals. While they are small and unobtrusive, they rarely include extra features, and their batteries won’t last as long. People with mild to moderate hearing loss can wear these.
In The Canal (ITC). This style of hearing aid is similar to the CIC, but a little larger. Custom molded and designed to fit partially in the ear canal, it includes features not found on the CIC. For people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
In The Ear (ITE). This style is custom molded and fits in the bowl-shaped cavity of the outer ear. It’s a larger device and therefore more visible, but is also easier to insert and remove, and usually includes advanced features and batteries that last longer. Patients with mild to severe hearing loss can wear these.
Receiver In The Ear (RITE). Receiver in the ear devices include a housing worn behind the ear and a receiver placed in the concha of the ear. They are easier to adjust and a good choice for those with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Behind The Ear (BTE). BTE devices hook over the top of your ear and include a plastic case worn behind the ear. Sound is transmitted through a clear tube to a tiny mold in the ear canal. This style is large and easily visible but is also simple to use and a great choice for children. This style is appropriate for all types of hearing loss.