Guide to Common Hearing Aid Abbreviations, Styles and Types

Selecting hearing aids can be hard if you’re unfamiliar with the large number of acronyms used to describe basic types. The following collection includes the majority of the acronyms you are likely to encounter when looking at hearing aids and provides a brief description of each. The best approach to really grasp the differences is to see them in real life, so if some of these explanations are unclear, please contact us to visit and examine the various styles.

This list is presented in approximate order from smallest to largest.

  • Invisible in Canal (IIC) – The IIC style of hearing aid fits inside the ear canal completely and is invisible from the outside. IIC types are typically not advised for the elderly, but are an excellent choice in middle age.
  • Completely in Canal (CIC) – Suitable for mild to moderate hearing losses, the CIC design fits inside the ear canal making it close to invisible. Because of its small size, the Completely in Canal style typically has fewer features. For instance, the Completely in Canal type doesn’t have space for directional microphones.
  • In the Canal (ITC) – Appropriate for mild to moderately-severe hearing losses, the ITC design is a small hearing aid that fits inside the ear canal and is externally visible. Being somewhat larger than the models which fit deeper in the ear canal, directional microphones are possible with the In-the-Canal style.
  • In the Ear (ITE) – Suitable for mild to severe hearing losses, the ITE design of hearing aid is easy to insert and appropriate for a wide variety of hearing losses. The ITE hearing aid is visible inside the ear, but its larger size offers more features, more power and an extended battery life.
  • Half Shell (HS) – Appropriate for mild to severe hearing losses, the Half Shell is a custom molded hearing aid that fits inside the ear canal and is partly visiblefrom the outside. Because it is somewhat larger than the designs which fit further into in the ear canal, added benefits such as directional microphones are feasible with the Half Shell hearing aiddesign.
  • Receiver In the Ear (RIE or RITE) – Appropriate for mild to moderately-severe hearing losses, the Receiver In the Ear design is the smallest among the externally worn hearing aids. The Receiver In the Ear type combines a very small case that sits behind the ear and a receiver placed inside the ear attached by a clear tube. The ear canal stays open for natural sound quality.
  • Open Ear / Open Fit – Suitable for mild to moderately-severe hearing losses, the Open Fit (also called Open Ear) model combines an exterior hearing aid case that fits behind the ear and a flexible clear tube inserted into the ear. The Open Fit model leaves the ear canal open for natural sound quality and is available in many colors.
  • Behind the Ear (BTE) – Appropriate for mild to severe hearing losses, the BTE style’s more substantial case makes a greater number of functions possible and is a superb choice for anyone that has poor finger dexeterity. All of the components are inside the external case which is worn behind the ear. Large number of colors options are readily available. The BTE type is often chosen for young children for safety and growth reasons.
  • Power – Formulated for individuals with profound hearing loss, the Power style hearing aid has a larger external case that sits behind the ear. The larger physical size makes it possible for it to supply the greatest levels of amplification making use of the most powerful modern technologies.