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    Hearing Aid Sizes

    This article describes the different sizes of hearing aids that are available. Hearing aids are made in many different shapes, sizes and even colors. Each one has advantages and disadvantages that should be evaluated before purchasing.

    Behind The Ear (BTE)

    • This hearing aid fits behind the ear and requires a separate earmold to connect the hearing aid to the ear. BTE hearing aids are generally known for durability and for power. Because the microphone is located further from the ear canal, there is also less chance of feedback (whistling) than with the smaller size hearing aids.  The earmold is custom fit to each user, but the hearing aids themselves do not need to be custom made.  The use of a separate earmold works well for people who develop excessive amounts of cerumen (earwax) and for children who's ear size changes frequently. BTE aids are also available in a very wide variety of power levels,  colors and also in different sizes for adults through very young children. The may be ordered with a direct audio input jack so that FM systems or personal listening devices may be plugged directly into the hearing aid. BTE aids usually use a size 675 or 13 battery.

    In The Ear (ITE)

    An ITE hearing aid fits entirely into the ear and fills the external ear.  It is usually visible when standing face to face with someone. ITE hearing aids are all custom made to fit each individuals ear.  There are no additional components to be added as all the parts are inside the custom made case (shell).  They are able to handle relatively large amounts of power, although there is an increased chance of feedback with more severe hearing losses.  Because an ITE only has one piece, some patients find it easier to insert and remove then the BTE size.

    In The Canal (ITC)

    This size hearing aid is similar to the ITE except it is even smaller, filling only the bottom half of the external ear. You usually cannot see very much of this hearing aid when you are face to face with someone. It is visible, however, from the side.  They are slightly more limited in power then the ITE size and are also more prone to feedback at high power levels.  The hearing aid user needs good dexterity to insert, remove and adjust this size hearing aid.

    Completely In The Canal (CIC)

    The CIC hearing aid fits way down inside the ear canal. It is usually not visible when standing face to face and it is only visible from the side if you are looking directly at the ear canal.  There are many advantages to this size including less wind noise as the microphone is moved down to the canal opening, more natural sound as the external ear can funnel sounds to the microphone and also they are easier to use on the telephone as the amount of feedback is reduced.  This size hearing aid does use smaller batteries with reduced storage capacity so the batteries need to be changed more frequently. CICs are usually not used to fit severe losses as feedback can become a problem.

    Eyeglass

    • This hearing aid is built into the frames of a persons eyeglasses. It requires a separate earmold to connect the hearing aid to the ear. The earmold is connected to the eyeglass frame via a tube similar to a BTE hearing aid.  The advantages include ease of use and the ability to enhance high pitches with less feedback then some of the other sizes.  The disadvantages include thicker eyeglass frames and always having to wear both glasses and hearing aids together.  This can make changing batteries on the hearing aid difficult as the glasses must be removed to access the hearing aid's battery compartment.

    Body Worn

    • A body worn hearing aid consists of a case containing the hearing aid parts (usually worn inside a pocket or clipped to clothing) and a cord that connects the case to an earmold worn in the ear.  These hearing aids are capable of large amounts of power with less feedback then most other sizes.  They also have the advantage of large, easy to adjust controls and long lasting batteries (size AA).  The disadvantages include: the persons body will block many sounds; large and cumbersome size; makes localizing sounds very difficult, and often clothing noises are amplified to levels that are distracting.

    Summary Table of the Types of Hearing Aids
    and options that may be ordered on each size

    OPTIONS

    BTE

    ITE

    CANAL

    MIN-ICANAL

    CIC

    BODY 
    WORN

    EYE-
    GLASS

    DIRECT AUDIO INPUT

    YES

    NO

    NO

    NO

    NO

    YES

    NO

    COMPUTER PROGRAMMABLE

    YES

    YES

    YES

    YES

    YES

    NO

    NO

    DIGITAL

    YES

    YES

    YES

    YES

    YES

    NO

    NO

    BATTERY SIZE

    #675 or
    #13

    #13 or
    #312

    #312

    #312 or
    #10

    #10 or
    #5

    Double 
    AA

    #675 or
    #13


    This article was submitted by: 
    Glen R. Meier, M.S., CCC-A, FAAA

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