Types of Hearing Aids

1 comment by Dr. Beverly R. Johannsen

Hearing aids have a wide variety of features depending upon their use. The different types of hearing aids include Mini-Behind-the-Ear, Traditional-Behind-the-Ear, Completely-in-the-canal, In-the-Canal, Traditional-In-the-Ear, and Invisible Hearing Aid. Let’s review all the types of hearing aids here:

The hearing aids can be broadly divided into two categories:

  • Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid (BTE)
  • In-the-Ear Hearing Aid (ITE)

Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid (BTE)

Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids (BTE) rest behind or on top of your outer ear. The sound is channeled through a tubing down into the ear canal via a custom-fit earmold or a dome style that does not block the complete ear canal opening. You can get BTE hearing aids in various colors and designs as per your personal preference. Depending upon their design, BTE hearing aids can be Mini-Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid or Traditional-Behind- the-Ear Hearing Aid.

Mini-Behind-the Ear Hearing Aid (mBTE)

Mini-Behind-the Ear Hearing Aid (mBTE) consists of a receiver (the speaker that sends sounds to the inner ear), located inside your ear canal. A thin wire and a custom-made earmold (a piece of soft material created to fit easily in the ear and channel sound into the ear), or a noncustom dome-style ear-canal piece connect the receiver to the ear. This means that the speaker of the hearing aid rests in your ear canal, but the microphone and processor rest in a tiny case behind the ear. They are also known as receiver-in-the-canal (RIC), receiver-in-the-ear (RITE), receiver-in-the-aid (RITA), and canal receiver technology (CRT).


  • Above-average sound quality and made by almost all manufacturers
  • The speaker can be replaced individually
  • Generally, the only style that comes with a rechargeable battery option
  • Probably has wireless connectivity to devices like phones
  • Telecoil choices are common


  • Speaker, located internally, is prone to damage by moisture and ear wax
  • The microphone and sound processor located behind the ear are easily seen

Traditional-Behind- the-Ear Hearing Aid (BTE)

Traditional-Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid (BTE) comprises of the electronic components which are in the plastic case worn behind your ear. Sound is sent to the ear through the tubing that connects the case to the receiver and a custom earmold worn in the ear canal.


  • Used for all levels of hearing loss, from mild to profound hearing loss, perform low to high-frequency sound amplification
  • Longer shape follows the contour of the ear and accommodates more features and battery power
  •  Available in models with wireless connectivity to devices FM systems, telephone adaptors, television amplifiers
  • Custom-fit earmold can be changed individually, suitable in children while they grow
  • Decreased risk of exposure to moisture, can be used in cases of excess cerumen


The limitations of BTE are somewhat similar to mBTE including

  • Prone to damage by sweat and cerumen build-up
  • Plugging up feeling can also occur
  • More visible externally

 In-the-Ear Hearing Aids (ITE)

In-the-Ear Hearing Aids (ITE) are worn in the ear canal and are generally custom-fit, according to the measurement that is taken by your hearing specialist during your hearing aid consultation. Available in various skin tones to blend with the outer ear, some types of ITE hearing aids fit very deeply within the ear canal, while others are closer to the outer ear. Depending upon their location, ITE can be Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aid (CIC), In-the-Canal Hearing Aid (ITC), Traditional In-the-Ear Hearing Aid (ITE), and Invisible Hearing Aid.

Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aid (CIC)

Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aid (CIC) is located in your ear canal, fitting deep and snugly in the ear. They can be pulled out by tugging on a string.


  • Good sound quality due to their fitting in the ear
  • Not noticeable from outside


  • Prone to damage by ear wax and moisture
  • Plugged up feeling in the ear
  • Small size also can lead to connectivity problems to wireless devices, like smartphones
  • Small battery has a short life and it is tedious to change batteries
  • Too small to include a directional microphone (which reduces background noise by picking up sound from a specific direction) but often has some directional sensitivity

In-the-Canal Hearing Aid (ITC)

In-the-Canal Hearing Aid (ITC) sits in your ear canal, filling half of the ear concha or the hollow of the ear next to the ear canal.


  • Not completely visible from outside                                                                 
  •  Plugged-up feeling is less than CIC hearing aid
  •  Can include directional microphones


Limitations are almost similar to CIC models in terms of susceptibility to moisture and block from ear wax. The battery also has a small size with a short life and difficulty in managing and adjusting.

Traditional In-the-Ear Hearing Aid (ITE)

Traditional In-the-Ear Hearing Aid (ITE) rests in the lower portion of your outer ear, completely occupying the concha. The case comprises of all the electronic parts, which rests in the hollow of the outer ear.


  • Can accommodate features such as telecoil, directional microphone, wireless streaming, manual controls such as a volume wheel
  • Decreased plugged-up feeling when ventilated
  • Simpler to handle including inserting, removing, changing batteries
  • Longer battery life due to larger size


  •  Regarded as more visible by some users
  •  The telecoil might not be as effective as those on BTE hearing aids due to smaller size


Invisible Hearing Aid (doesn’t exist)

Invisible Hearing Aid (doesn’t exist) is similar to Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aid (CIC) except that it is worn deeper in the ear canal making them totally discreet.


Choosing a hearing aid which is a correct fit for you can be a demanding task. Given the diverse types and designs of hearing aids available, we can assist you to make a correct selection. Our team of experts pays attention to the specific needs of every individual and guides all the way to make an accurate choice from our broad collection of hearing aids.

1 comment

  • Levi Armstrong

    My husband and I are planning to take our daughter to a hearing aid consultation because we think she might have a problem with her hearing. If ever she needs a hearing aid, perhaps we should consider getting her a traditional in-the-ear aid because it’s easy to handle and remove, plus it has longer battery life. We’ll talk to the doctor about her options once we’re sure she would need help with her hearing. Thanks for this! https://victoriahearingcenter.com/hearing-aids/

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