HomeHealth articleshearing lossWhat Are the Types of Hearing Aids?

How to Choose the Right Hearing Device?

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There are different types of hearing aids. One can choose the right one by visiting an audiologist. Continue reading to learn its different types.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Akshay. B. K.

Published At February 23, 2023
Reviewed AtFebruary 23, 2023


Hearing aids are electronic devices designed to improve and assist hearing in patients with moderate to profound hearing loss. They cannot restore complete hearing in patients with hearing loss, but they can improve the hearing experience and overall quality of life. Different types of hearing aids are made for people with different hearing disabilities, and the best for you will be decided by your audiologist.

How Do Hearing Aids work?

The hearing aid transmits the sound from the environment into the ear by amplifying the sound. The parts of the hearing aids are the same regardless of the type of hearing aid, and they are:

  • A microphone.

  • An amplifier.

  • A speaker is also called the receiver.

The microphone collects the sound from the environment, which is then converted into electrical codes. These electrical signals then go through the amplifier, increasing the signal's power, and are then converted into sound waves. The signals will then go to the ear through a speaker. Most hearing aids are digital, and a traditional hearing aid battery or a rechargeable battery powers them.

What Are the Types of Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are of different sizes, shapes, and prices, and how they are placed in the ear; they are:

Completely in the Canal or Mini - A completely-in-the-canal hearing fits inside your ear canal. It is given to patients with mild to moderate hearing loss in adults.

A completely-in-the-canal hearing aid has the following features:

  • It is small and least visible.

  • It is less likely to pick up wind noise.

  • It uses small batteries, which have a shorter life and can be difficult to handle.

  • It does not have other features like volume control or a directional microphone.

  • It is susceptible to clogging by earwax.

In the Canal - An in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid is custom-made and partly fits in the ear canal. This hearing aid style can be useful for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

An in-the-canal hearing aid has the following features:

  • Less visible in the ear compared to the larger types.

  • It has features incorporated that are not present in the completely-in-the-ear type of hearing aid, but it is difficult to adjust because of its smaller size.

  • It is susceptible to earwax clogging the speaker.

In the Ear- An in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid is custom-made in two styles, and they are— one that occupies most of the bowl-shaped area of the outer ear (full shell) and one that occupies only the lower part (half shell). Both types of hearing aids are helpful for people with mild to severe hearing loss. In addition, this type of hearing aid has directional microphones, which means that it has two microphones for better hearing in noise.

An in-the-ear hearing aid has the following features:

  • It has features that do not fit on smaller hearing aids, like a volume control.

  • It is much easier to handle.

  • This type of hearing aid has a larger battery with longer life and other options like rechargeable batteries.

  • It is susceptible to clogging with earwax over the speaker.

  • It may pick up more wind noise than smaller devices.

  • It is more visible in the ear than the smaller hearing aids.

Behind the Ear- A behind-the-ear (BTE) type of hearing aid is placed at the top of your ear and behind the ear. The hearing aid is connected via a tube to the custom earpiece called an earmold placed in the ear canal. A behind-the-ear hearing aid can be used by people of all ages and is suitable for almost all types of hearing loss.

A behind-the-ear hearing aid has the following features:

  • This type of hearing aid is the largest, and some new mini designs are available.

  • It has directional microphones

  • Has more amplification than other types.

  • It may pick up more wind noise.

  • It is available with a rechargeable battery.

Receiver in the Canal or Receiver in the Ear- The receiver-in-canal and receiver-in-the-ear are hearing aid types similar to the behind-the-ear hearing aid with the speaker or the receiver in the ear canal. A wire connects the piece behind the ear to the speaker or receiver.

A receiver-in-canal hearing aid has the following features:

  • Behind the ear portion is not much visible.

  • It has directional microphones.

  • It has manual control options.

  • Rechargeable battery is available.

  • It is also susceptible to clogging the speaker with earwax.

Open Fit - An open-fit hearing aid is a deviation from the behind-the-ear hearing aid with a thin tube or the receiver-in-the-canal or receiver-in-the-ear hearing aid with an open dome in the ear. This will keep the ear canal open, allowing low-frequency sound to enter the ear naturally and amplifying the high-frequency sounds through the hearing aid. This type of hearing aid is apt for people with low-frequency hearing and mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss.

An open-fit hearing aid has the following features:

  • Visible from outside.

  • It does not plug the ear like the in-the-ear hearing aid styles, often making your voice sound better.

  • It may be more difficult to insert into the ear due to the non-custom dome.

How to Choose the Right Hearing Aid?

There are different types of hearing aids, so it is important to choose the best for you, which might not be attained at the first option. It is a trial-and-error method. So, here are some tips which will make the journey of choosing the right hearing aid less complicated.

  • Consult a Doctor- The best way to know the right hearing aid is to consult with a doctor who can suggest the hearing aid according to the type of hearing loss you have.

  • Take a Trial - Many companies offer a trial period. Also, make sure about the product's refund policy in case of a return before you leave the store.

  • Warranties - Another important feature to be considered is the warranty. Read through the leaflet provided with the hearing aid and understand their warranty policy fully. Also, consider extending the warranty if it is possible.

  • Repairs and Adjustments - Ask about the repairs and adjustment pricing in case of malfunction.


Hearing aids are devices designed to help people suffering from hearing loss. These devices are of different types and even customized according to the patient's needs. So, it is important to know in detail about each type to choose the right one for you.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Diagnose Hearing Loss?

- A physical examination is conducted to identify the cause of hearing loss. The condition may develop due to earwax, infection, or hearing problems.
- The whisper test is used as a screening test. In this test, ears are covered one at a time when listening to words at different volumes.
- App-based hearing tests on mobile or tablet can help with self-screening for hearing loss.
- A two-pronged metal instrument called a tuning fork that makes a sound when hit can diagnose hearing loss. 
- An audiometer test can diagnose hearing loss by directing sounds and words through earphones to each ear. The test is repeated for low levels to find the lowest sound that can be heard.


Can Hearing Loss Be Reversed?

Conductive hearing loss in which middle and outer ear issues are present is reversible than sensorineural hearing loss. In sensorineural hearing loss, the inner ear or auditory nerve is damaged, making the treatment difficult. The damage can be permanent. Conductive hearing loss can be treated with non-invasive procedures or less intensive procedures.


Can Hearing Loss Be Diagnosed With MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)?

In patients with unilateral sensorineural hearing loss, MRI is recommended by healthcare providers. The imaging helps visualize the inner ear and surrounding structures. In addition, any growth, such as acoustic neuroma, that occurs on the nerve pathway from the ear to the brain can be examined. These growths can be a cause of hearing loss.


Which Is the Most Frequently Used Test for Hearing Loss?

Pure tone audiometry is a gold standard test used to analyze hearing loss. This test is highly effective in analyzing the ear condition. The technique uses pure tone at various pitches or frequencies to analyze the faintest tone audible to a person. The test is also known as the air conduction test.


Who Is Responsible for Diagnosing Hearing Loss?

An audiologist is an expert trained to perform a hearing test. In addition, otolaryngologists responsible for medical or surgical care of ear, nose, throat, and neck anomalies can help provide treatment options by analyzing the disease.


What Is the Common Age for the Occurrence of Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss develops as a birth defect or can be seen in aging. Hearing loss in newborns can occur as a developmental defect in one or both ears. In adults, the occurrence of hearing loss increases with aging. The incidence of developing hearing loss is highest among individuals above 75 years of life.


Which Are the Vitamins Beneficial in the Treatment of Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss caused by loud noise can show improvement with the intake of vitamins A, C, and E and magnesium. The vitamins can block the creation of free radicals that can cause ear damage. Age-related hearing loss can show improvement with consuming folic acid.


Can Hearing Loss Affect Memory?

Hearing loss can force the brain to work harder. It can make the individual undergo strain to hear. This results in overthinking and memory system issues. Hearing loss also can reduce the socialization of affected individuals. It can lead to a less active and engaged brain.


Can ENT Diagnose Hearing Loss?

An ENT specialist is also known as an otolaryngologist. The specialist helps identify the causes of hearing loss. The specialist can refer the patient to an audiologist for a hearing test. The test can reveal the severity of hearing loss and overall ear health. Based on the results, the ENT can plan further management.


Can CT Scans Diagnose Hearing Loss?

Doctors advise a CT scan to visualize the ear structure in individuals suspected of middle or outer ear issues. The imaging takes a series of X-rays of the ear’s internal structure to form 3D (three-dimensional) images. It can also cause abnormalities in bony components of the ear or abnormal bone growth in the middle ear.


What Are the Disorders That Can Cause Hearing Loss?

In adults, the disorders causing hearing loss are otosclerosis (inherited disorder causing hearing loss), Meniere’s disease (inner ear disorder causing episodes of spinning), autoimmune inner ear disease, meningitis (redness and swelling of brain and spinal cord membranes) and acoustic neuroma (non-cancerous tumor growth on nerve supplying ear). Heart diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes are risk factors for developing hearing loss.


How to Improve Hearing Health?

Hearing health can be bettered by avoiding loud noises that cause hearing loss. Keeping the ear canal dry can prevent infections, and wax build-up and improve ear health. Individuals with smoke are advised against it as nicotine and carbon monoxide released can harm inner ear health.


Can an MRI Damage Hearing?

MRI machines during examination produce noise that may damage the patient or operator’s hearing. Few patients have reported hearing impairment after undergoing MRI. The damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs unilaterally or bilaterally with the presence or absence of symptoms. Sensorineural hearing loss is commonly associated with MRI-induced hearing impairment.


Can MRI Detect Ear Problems?

MRI imaging can identify abnormal structural changes in the ear, the appearance of infection or redness and swelling, edema, and soft tissue lesions in the ear. The imaging is also useful for analyzing sensorineural hearing loss and inner ear issues.
Dr. Akshay. B. K.
Dr. Akshay. B. K.

Otolaryngology (E.N.T)


hearing loss
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