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There is no single style of hearing instrument(s) in today’s market place which is the perfect solution for each individual person. Differing degrees and types of hearing loss, lifestyles, associated symptoms, budgets, current technologies, color and other personal preferences all combine to have a significant influence on which hearing instruments offer the best personalized solution for each individual.  For that reason, hearing instruments are made in many technological styles and sleek ergonomic designs to address the individual needs of every person. ihearingaids will help narrow down your search to find the hearing instrument which is best for you. The most common styles of hearing instruments include:



BTE (Behind-the-Ear) – Traditionally consist of a form fitting, colorized, plastic case, with an attached custom fit ear mold. BTE’s have historically been effective in addressing the larger range of hearing loss.  The various sizes and stylized cases are typically moisture resistant and enclose the electronics, controls, battery, microphone and speaker. Generally, the case sits securely and weightlessly behind the ear with a short silicone tube extending from the case and discretely traveling down the front fold of the ear and into your custom ear mold which sits comfortably within your ear. The sound from the hearing instrument is then routed acoustically through this tube and delivered to and through the ear mold.


Recommended for the broadest range of hearing loss, BTE’s typically provide improved hearing and improved communicative capabilities.


Battery size is generally larger resulting in longer battery life.  These hearing instruments often yield a sustained period of reasonably stable performance with a useful life expectancy of 5-7 years assuming no significant change in hearing acuity or hearing instrument abuse.


Benefits:


(Average retail prices, including service, typically range from $1,200.00 to $3,800.00 each)


There is a thin tube (or narrow tube) variation of the BTE, which is fit more typically only for specific types of hearing loss (typically extreme high frequency losses).  As such, they are not recommended for everyone.  Often such hearing instruments are merely masquerading as the more highly desired and effective RITE (Receiver-in-the-ear) styles.  

Caution is therefore recommended when these are offered.


RITE (Receiver-in-the-Ear), also referred to as RIC (Receiver-in-the-Canal) – Initially seemingly similar to BTE hearing instruments in that there are choices of sleek highly ergonomic stylized cases of various colors and sizes that sit securely and unobtrusively above and behind the ear.  


However, it is there that the similarities to BTE’s end.  This newest state-of-the-art technological hearing instrument uses a cosmetically miniature, discreet wired receiver which attaches at the case and travels down and sits comfortably within the ear canal.  There the micro receiver is protected with a soft comfortable open-fit flexible silicone dome or a miniature inconspicuous customized earmold.  This means that the in-the-canal micro receiver is more efficiently amplifying directly within your ear canal, as opposed to having to be further away within the case.  


This newest technological advancement allows for a more practical open fit in-the-ear-canal receiver which provides the wearer with superior clarity through delicate, discrete amplification.   


The “open ear fitting” also provides for the natural “inclusion of sound” by including the desired natural sounds and speech that exist in your world.  This inclusive technology results in a more brilliant reproduction of sounds that you have lost, and seek to regain as you remember them. Earlier hearing instruments all “exclude” the natural sounds and speech you want to hear by limiting you to only the sounds that come through its amplifier.


These are currently the most popular instruments for both patient and hearing professional alike. Their smaller ergonomic styles, shapes, sizes and technological capabilities make them typically the easiest and most effective hearing instrument products to fit, operate and maintain.  As a result the wearer quickly experiences this revitalized real world sound connectivity, and can expect more trouble free use and longevity.


Battery size is sufficiently large resulting in longer battery life.  These hearing instruments often yield a sustained period of reasonably stable performance with a useful life expectancy of 5-7 years assuming no significant change in hearing acuity, hearing instrument abuse, or continued technological advancements.


Recommended for the broadest range of hearing loss and typically provides the most beneficial improved hearing and communicative capabilities for the greatest longevity.


Benefits:


(Average retail prices, including service, typically range from $1,900.00 to $5,200.00 each)



ITE (In-the-Ear) – Personalized custom molded full shell fills most of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear encasing the battery and all of the electronics with no external wires.  This style is the largest and most visible of the custom made “in-the-ear” hearing instruments, and as such addresses the broadest fitting range and degree of hearing loss (except for severe to profound losses) for such “in-the-ear” styles.  Its size makes it typically the easiest of the “in-the-ear” products to fit, operate, manipulate and maintain with larger, easier to use controls and battery insertion and removal.  


Battery size is larger resulting in longer battery life.  These hearing instruments often yield a sustained period of reasonably stable performance with a useful life expectancy of 5-7 years assuming no significant change in hearing acuity, or hearing instrument abuse.


Benefits:

   

(Average retail prices, including service, typically range from $1,400.00 to $4,800.00 each)


 ITC (In-the-Canal) – A smaller and personalized custom molded hearing instrument, typically fitting less visibly in your ear canal.  However, not as deeply or as small as the completely-in-the-canal instrument (i.e. CIC’s).  It, like all the “in-the-ear” products, is a one piece insert that encloses the battery and all of the parts of the hearing instrument with no wires visible.


The ITC’s are typically much smaller than the larger full shell ITE’s allowing for slightly less cosmetic visibility, and reasonably easy fitting, cautious operation, careful manipulation and attentive maintenance. Users of these devices may also notice increased challenges with dexterity. Due to its smaller size, batteries tend to also be smaller with typically less battery life.


The smaller size and capabilities of the ITC’s may also increase the possibility of greater unwanted occlusion (i.e. echo/fullness) and persistent feedback.  The latter issues becomes much more troublesome as time after the initial fitting goes by.   Smaller volume controls and other cramped switches may also contribute to greater difficulties with operation, dexterity and manipulation and more frequent required attentive maintenance.

 

These hearing instruments often yielding a similar duration of reasonably stable usage within a 5-7 average year time frame, assuming no significant change in hearing acuity, or hearing instrument abuse.


Not recommended for people with moderate-to-severe, severe or profound hearing losses.


Benefits:


(Average retail prices, including service, typically range from $1,900.00 to $4,800.00 each)



CIC (Completely-in-the-Canal) – An even smaller personalized custom molded hearing instrument fitting more deeply inside your ear canal, thus making them most often, less visibly obtrusive.  It, like all the “in-the-ear” products, is a one piece insert that encloses the battery and all of the parts of the hearing instrument with no wires visible.


As detailed above for the ITC hearing instrument family, these even smaller more discreet in-the-canal products can and are typically more problematic for all aspects of patient’s initial fitting and long term hearing, cosmetic and communicative benefits, (assuming the ear canal is able to be fit with such a style).  


Smaller battery size, stubborn maintenance, increased repairs, remakes, difficult manipulation and a bevy of associated operational problems due to  feedback, fullness, occlusion, etc. deriving from ear canal size, wax, etc., make this style one of the most challenging and often most frustrating styles to fit, wear and manage peacefully or successfully.


Battery size is smaller resulting in much shorter battery life (e.g. days not weeks).  These hearing instruments often have limited longevity, requiring periodic replacement within a 1-3 year time frame, assuming no significant change in hearing acuity or hearing instrument abuse.


These hearing instruments are often the most difficult to fit and typically more expensive, and often sold principally for purposes of cosmetic sensitivities, rather than preferred acoustic or performance superiority.  


Appropriately recommended only for people with mild to mildly moderate hearing losses.


Benefits:

      

(Average retail prices, including service, typically range from $2,100.00 to $5,200.00 each)



IIC Deep Canal Hearing Instruments – Currently NOT recommended by ihearingaids


CIC completely-in-canal ITC in-the-canal HS half shell ITE in-the-ear

Mild to moderate hearing losses

Very small case

Fits inside the ear canal, making it practically invisible

Size prevents the use of directional microphones

Mild to moderately severe hearing losses

Small, one piece case

Fits inside the ear canal

Directional microphones are possible with this model

Mild to severe hearing losses

Small case

Fits inside the ear canal and is partially visible


Moderate to severe hearing loss


Most variably sized in-the-ear case


Typically with larger, longer lasting battery to accommodate larger hearing losses

 

Most visible, but can be fit comfortably and cosmetically contoured to the shape of the outer ear


Directional microphones, volume control, programming and most wireless options are possible with this model.

RITE receiver-in-the-ear BTE behind-the-ear Power high power hearing instrument

Mild to severe hearing losses

Fully featured hearing instruments

Larger case can be easier for wearers with dexterity considerations

Case contains all features and sits behind the ear

Many color options

Profound hearing losses

More powerful solutions that provide the greatest levels of amplification

Larger case worn behind the ear

Mild to moderate losses

Ear canal is open for a natural sound quality

Smallest external instrument, as the receiver is located in the end of the tube inside the ear

Very small case that fits behind the ear, making it practically invisible