There are many styles of hearing aids. The degree of the hearing loss, power and options requirements, manual dexterity abilities, cost factors, and cosmetic concerns are some of the factors that will determine the style the patient will use. The most common styles are listed below:
Open BTE: Open Behind-The-Ear units use tiny casing and a nearly invisible slim tube. Open fittings offer a cosmetically apppealing option. They are lightweight and tiny, with a transparent dome that makes them less noticeable than aids with custom earmolds.
ITE: In-The-Ear units are probably the most comfortable, the least expensive and the easiest to operate. They are also the largest of the custom made styles.
ITC: In-The-Canal units are a little more expensive than ITEs. They require good dexterity to control the volume wheels and other controls on the faceplate, and they are smaller than ITEs.
MC: Mini-Canals are the size between ITC and CIC. A mini canal is a good choice when you desire the smallest possible hearing aid while still having manual control over the volume wheel and possibly other controls.
CIC: Completely-In-the-Canal units are the tiniest hearing aids made. They usually require a "removal string" due to their small size and the fact that they fit so deeply into the canal. CICs can be difficult to remove without the pull string. CICs do not usually have manual controls attached to them because they are too small.
RIC: Receiver-in-canal units are the newest in technology and offer near invisable fittings. They are good for patients that have good hearing in the low frequency (typical) with the sloping loss. They don't occlude patients like custom hearing aids by not plugging the canal.
BTE: Behind-The-Ear hearing aids are the largest hearing aids and they are very reliable. BTEs have the most circuit options and they can typically have much more power than any of the custom made in the ear units. BTEs are the units that "sit" on the back of your ear. They are connected to the ear canal via custom-made plastic tubing. The tubing is part of the earmold. The earmold is custom made from an ear impression to perfectly replicate the size and shape of your ear.