If you are experiencing a hearing loss and have been recommended a hearing aid, it is natural to have concerns about how it will look. Most digital hearing aids are available in different levels of technology, but also allow you the choice of many different wearing styles. Understanding your options of hearing aid styles can help you decide which will work best for your lifestyle and level of discretion you are seeking.  Depending on your hearing loss, the following options are likely available to you:

Behind-the-ear (BTE):

The traditional type of aid that most people think of when they hear the phrase “hearing aid.” A small plastic case fits behind the ear. A custom-made piece called an earmoid fits into the ear canal. The earmold is connected by a tube to the BTE part. The advantages are that sounds can be amplified greater than with some other models, but it may pick up more wind noise. This is a good device for hearing loss from mild to severe.

Receiver in the canal (RIC):

This is very similar to the BTE, but is generally smaller and has a wire connecting the BTE piece with the earmold instead of a tube. It is not as visible as the BTE, but earwax clogging the receiver may interfere with its functioning. Works for all ranges of loss.

In the ear (ITE):

This is a shell that fits into the outer bowl-shaped part of the ear. It may take up the entire space, or only the lower half. Its advantages are that it is easier to adjust and the batteries are larger and easier to handle. On the other hand, wind noise and earwax clogging may present problems. It is more visible that some of the other smaller hearing aids. This works well for most ranges of hearing loss, up to severe.

In the canal (ITC):

It is more visible than the CIC but less visible than some of the other types. It is custom-molded and fits only partially in the ear canal. Due to its small size, it may be difficult for some people to adjust. Works best for those with mild to moderate loss.

Completely in the canal (CIC):

This type is also molded and custom-made to fit completely inside the ear canal. It is quite small and hardly visible. It does not pick up wind noise as easily as some of the others. The batteries are very small, which may make them difficult to handle. There typically is no volume control or ability to change the direction of the microphone. It also gets easily clogged with earwax. It works well for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Invisible in the canal (IIC):

This is a small custom-molded device that fits deep inside the ear canal and, as the name suggests, is almost completely invisible. This may be an excellent choice for someone with mild to moderate hearing loss, but not for those with a severe or profound loss. Since the hearing aid so small, the battery is also very small and may be difficult to handle for some people. The battery life is shorter than batteries for some other devices.