What’s the Difference Between Different Styles of Hearing Aids?

There are so many styles of hearing aids to choose from, but do you know which one is right for you? We’re here to take the guesswork out of buying a hearing aid! In this post, we’ll cover the differences between the styles and teach you what all those letters mean.

Let’s start with the basics. Hearing aids come in two basic types: ITE (In the Ear) and BTE (Behind the Ear).


ITE hearing aids are designed to be discreet; they sit right in the ear canal and may be partially visible or almost completely invisible from the outside of the ear. Your provider will need to take an impression of your ear to ensure the best fit. Because they’re made to blend in, ITE aids are often flesh-toned. ITE devices do have some downsides; because of their small size, they may not support smartphone connectivity, and they’re prone to ear wax and moisture damage.


BTE hearing aids sit behind the ear and direct sound into the ear with tubing that goes into the ear canal. They can be any color, and they are customizable to fit the wearer’s personal style. BTE aids pack a bit more punch than ITE aids because of their size, but they are more noticeable. Many styles are still quite small, however!


Within these two broad categories, you’ll find a variety of styles that fit different hearing and lifestyle needs. Let’s take a look at some of the most common styles you’ll find when you come in for an appointment at our Henderson or Boulder City offices.


In the Ear Styles

  • IIC (Invisible in Canal) and CIC (Completely in Canal): These tiny hearing aids sit all the way or almost all the way inside your ear canal. They’re ideal for people with mild to moderate hearing loss who want their aids to be invisible.
  • ITC (In the Canal): These slightly larger hearing aids sit in the outer ear bowl instead of all the way inside the canal. They’re more comfortable and more powerful due to their size, so they can also fit more features like manual controls on the outside of the aid.


Behind the Ear Styles

  • RIC (Receiver in Canal): This is the most common style of hearing aid we fit, and for good reason! RICs have a case which sits behind the ear and houses the microphone and processor as well as any external controls. The speaker sits in the ear canal, and is connected to the body of the hearing aid by a thin wire. They’re typically lightweight and ideal for fun features like music, TV, and call streaming. They’re also easy to repair and can be programmed and fit immediately after your hearing test.
  • BTE (Behind the Ear): These hearing aids are the largest style, and therefore most powerful, suitable for any amount of hearing loss from mild to profound. The body of the hearing aid sits behind the ear, and a tube connects it to a custom earmold that sits in the outer bowl of the ear. They’re strong and durable, as well as less susceptible to ear wax and moisture damage. However, their size makes them difficult to wear with glasses and face masks.


Remember, it’s always best to talk with your provider before selecting a hearing aid. We want you to walk away with a device that fits your lifestyle, so don’t hesitate to ask questions or try different styles!