A hearing aid is a miniature amplification system. The easiest way to categorise the type of hearing aid is to describe where it’s worn: put simply, hearing aids can either be worn in the ear or behind the ear. Its key parts include:
- a microphone
- an amplifier (most employ digital signal processing)
- a miniature loudspeaker called a receiver
- a battery.
ITE hearing aids are used for mild-to-severe hearing loss. As the name suggests, these aids sit entirely within the ear. Because they’re made to fit you snugly, you’ll need to have an impression taken of your ear.
When an ITE hearing aid occupies a sufficiently small portion of the ear, it’s referred to as an in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid.
Hearing aids that fit entirely within the ear canal are known as completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids. These hearing aids use small components and don’t protrude into the outer ear.
Behind the ear (BTE)
BTEs are used for all types of hearing loss from mild to profound. In these devices, the electronics and receiver are mounted in a banana-shaped case, and the sound is passed via a tube to a custom ear mould. While they are still discreet to wear, they’re also typically more powerful than ITE varieties.
BTE aids can be open or closed. ‘Closed’ means that the ear mould almost completely fills the outer ear and ear canal, while ‘open’ fittings use a thin tube in place of an ear mould to connect the aid to the ear. There is also a receiver in each of the canal options that consists of a receiver placed within the canal and connected to the BTE unit via a thin tube.