Updated: 2022, Sep 26

Hearing Aids: How to Choose the Right One

Hearing aids are small electronic devices that can be highly customized to address different types of hearing loss.

In the past, hearing aids were something that people dreaded. Many people that had been diagnosed with hearing loss waited up to seven years before they would actually give in and improve their hearing. Even today the statistics show the same. There are over 48 million Americans that have some type of hearing loss, and of those reported they wait as long as they feel that they can without opting to get a hearing aid.

Hearing Aids: How to Choose the Right One
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. Image/Shutterstock

The hearing aids of today though can be so small that they are nearly invisible. However, the bigger styles still have their specific advantages. You can also find some that are in the middle, offering you some of the benefits of each of the others. To know which one you should get, keep reading to find the perfect fit for you.

Completely in the Canal (CIC) or Mini CIC

The CIC or Mini CIC is designed to fit snugly into your ear canal. A mold will be taken of each ear and the hearing aid will be specially made for you by copying the size and shape of the mold. They are designed for many reasons in this way, but the most prevalent is sight. These types of hearing aides are virtually invisible unless someone looks directly into your ear.

Since they are tucked away into your canal your ears make a natural wind block, so the normal issues with wind noise that the other styles have is not going to be present. The CIC styles also remove the “talking in a barrel” effect that most of the other styles have problems with. And the final positive aspect that they have is when you hook them up to your mobile device. You will not need any add-ons to be able to use your mobile phone because this type of hearing aid does not interfere with the regular use of them.

With everything that is good, there are some bad that goes along with it. Because of the tiny size of the CIC models, you will find that they will not amplify sounds as well as the larger styles. They also have very tiny batteries that do not hold power as long, and they can be difficult to get into place if you have big, or shaky, hands. They also do not have room for any added features, such as directional microphones, which may or may not be a deal breaker for you.

In the Canal (ITC)

The second type of hearing aide that you will want to consider is the ITC style. This is a slightly bigger version of the CIC. It is also going to be custom made by using a mold of your ear. Each set will be customized to fit into each ear canal. They still offer a discrete way of amplifying your hearing, and they can also hook up to any newer style mobile device. You can hook your phone to the hearing aid and still have a private conversation with the phone to your ear without any discomfort.

The main issue with the ITC is like the ones associated with their smaller siblings. The device is small so the batteries will be harder to handle, and they will not stay charged as long as bigger versions. The add-on features are limited on these as well because of the lack of space to install them on the hearing aid. The final negative aspect of these styles is that they can be harder to clean unless you have small, dainty hands that do not shake.

In the Ear (ITE)

The ITE hearing aid is one of the most popular types available because of many reasons. They fall directly in between the smaller ones that fit into your ear canal, and the ones that go up and around the back of your ear lobe. These styles will also be specially made by using molds of your ear, outside of the canal but still within the folds of cartilage. They will fit snugly into place with no chance of them falling out.

The ITE is small enough to be hidden from plain view but are still big enough to have some of the extra add-ons that you cannot have with the smaller versions. You will find that they have a higher quality of sound than the smaller ones, and they have much better amplification. As with the two smaller versions, the In The Ear hearing aide can be hooked up to any newer mobile device, but the phone can be used as normal. Meaning that it can still be held up to your ear for a more discreet conversation. If you want to learn more about this popular style visit the Helix Hearing Care website and get set up for a consultation.

The negative aspects of the ITE device starts with the size, once again. They will be harder to clean, and will require more in-depth cleaning, because the closer the device is to the canal the more ear wax that you will have to remove. This style also seems to have some of the biggest issues with needing repairs. The final issue, and perhaps the biggest, is the design themselves. They are designed so similar that when you come close to someone else that has one you may have some interference. Since they are one of the most popular styles, you will find that this may happen more often than you would like it to.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

Behind The Ear (BTE)

Overall, the BTE hearing aid is the most common type that you will see. It is a device that hooks over the top of your ear with the section that holds the battery and the controls. A tube connects to an ear mold that goes into your ear, like how you would wear newer style earbuds. They are extremely comfortable to wear, and they are easier to keep clean than the smaller types discussed above. This type will also cost the least out of all your options, and they are made differently so you will not have the feedback issues that are common with the others.

The biggest problem that you will experience with these is the background noises. Your ear will not block the wind so when you are driving, or there is a breeze outside, you will feel like you are inside of a wind tunnel. The quality of sound is not as good, and the most obvious is that they are not as discrete as the others. They are not suited for people with excessive hearing loss, either, but they are still great devices that are affordable enough to get you into a hearing aid.

Receiver In the Canal (RIC) or Receiver in the Ear (RITE)

These two types are similar to the BTE devices, but they are smaller and more discrete. The main part of the hearing aid will sit behind the ear and is connected with a tiny wire that goes into the ear to amplify the sound. It has the same benefits and disadvantages, so we are not going to discuss them again. They do have a couple of other downfalls, though, that need to be discussed. They are so light weight that it is hard for the person wearing them to know if they are in correctly, and they will require more repairs because the wire connecting the two pieces is so small and brittle.

Open Fit

The Open Fit style is simply a variation of the BTE version that is designed to open up the ear so natural tones can be heard without the need of amplification. This design is perfect for people that can still hear lower tones but have trouble with the mid-tones. It has the same benefits and issues as the behind the ear, but it does not plug the ear canal, so it gives a little more versatility.

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Final Thoughts

Getting a hearing aid today is not as bad as it once was. Many people that need them would refuse to wear them simply because they were big and visible. Now, there are numerous choices that you can make once you find out that you need one.

Remember that you cannot diagnose yourself, and it is not a great idea to order one off an online site. You need to go to an Audiologist and have them test you thoroughly. From there they will help you choose the best type for your specific circumstances and will program it to your needs.

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Dr. Navid Taghvaei, Au.D.

Dr. Navid Taghvaei (Au.D. CCC-A, FAAA) is an Educational Specialist with Signia and is responsible for conducting very complex individu

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