Hearing Aids come in many shapes and sizes. In addition to the physical appearance of the hearing aid, there are several technology levels available from basic up through premium. Most of the hearing aid manufacturers have these separated into 5 main levels (give or take).
First, lets look at the different styles:
There are two main types: Behind the Ear (BTE) and In The Ear (ITE).
Within each of these categories, there are subcategories such as:
- Super Power BTE
- Standard BTE
- Minifit or Slim tube BTE
- Reciever in Canal/Receiver in the Ear (RIC or RITE)
You may also hear the term “Open Fit” tossed around when talking about the last two mentioned.
For the second group, the In The Ear style, are also commonly referred to as Custom hearing aids because they require that an ear mold impression is created to insure a custom fit.
Full Shell ITE – While ITE is the generic term for all of the hearing aids in this category, it’s also usually reserved to describe the largest type which takes up the entire outer portion of the ear and is also called a Full Shell.
Half Shell ITE – Similar to the previous type is the Half Shell, which only takes up about half of the outer ear.
ITC – In The Canal. This size usually combines a discreet size while not sacraficing battery size or other advanced components.
CIC – Smaller still is the Completely in Canal. With this size, the user enjoys full discretion, as the hearing aid is usually not visible from the front or side, however it will utilize the smallest size 10 battery.
IIC – The final custom style is called an Invisible In Canal, since it sits even deeper within the ear canal, and for all intents and purposes is “invisible.”
Now that you have an understanding of the different types of hearing aids, lets look at the different technology levels. As mentioned above, most manufacturers break down their technology levels into 5 levels, so lets use that model for describing each. Also, the name of each level here is just generic terminology, and may vary from company to company.
Basic: Gives all necessary amplification and is programmed based off of the audiogram. Has limited noise reduction ability. Typically has only Omni directional or Fixed directional microphone options. May or may not have wind noise reduction. Lower number of channels, which can affect clarity. May or may not be wireless compatible.
Essential: Gives all necessary amplification and is programmed based off of the audiogram. Has a step up in noise reduction capability. More microphone options or directionality. Typically has wind noise reduction. Increased number of channels over basic level. Usually wireless compatible.
Standard: Gives all necessary amplification and is programmed based off of the audiogram. Has multiple levels of noise reduction capability. Microphone mode usually changes automatically between Omni and Adaptive Directional based off of the environment. Has wind noise reduction. Increased number of channels over Essential level. Wireless compatible, unless that is not desired.
Advanced: Gives all necessary amplification and is programmed based off of the audiogram. Has an even greater range of noise reduction. Microphones typically operate dynamically and adjust based on multiple situations. Multi level wind noise reduction. Increased number of channels over Standard level for improved sound quality. Wireless compatible, unless that is not desired.
Premium: Gives all necessary amplification and is programmed based off of the audiogram. Has dynamic noise reduction based on environment. Microphones react dynamically to the environment including music. Multi level wind noise reduction. Greatest number of channels for most accurate sound processing. Wireless compatible, unless that is not desired.