There are two main styles of hearing aids - Custom and Behind the Ear (BTE). The Custom devices can be further subdivided to Complete In the Canal (CIC), In the Canal (ITC), In the Ear (ITE) and the newest Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids. All the components of the hearing aids are built in to one small (relative to ear canal size and shape) package. Behind the Ear devices can be further subdivided into the small Reciever in the Canal (RIC), Mini Behind the Ear, and the traditional Behind the Ear styles.
The Invisible In the Ear or Micro CIC hearing aid is the smallest designed device made to fit deeply inside the shadows of the ear canal. It uses the smallest size battery size 10 yet can still pack a punch with it being available in all levels of technology. The IIC has a single microphone strategically placed to optimise the natural pinna effect giving you a clear sound reproduction without anyone knowing a device is being worn. Examples include Starkey's Sound Lense IIC, Unitron Micro CIC and Phonak's Micro CIC.
The CIC hearing aid is designed to fit deeply inside the ear canal making it almost invisible and very discreet. Since the microphone is at the opening of the ear canal, this style is also designed to promote the natural pinna effect needed for funnelling sound down the ear canal. Like its cousin the IIC it uses the smallest size 10 battery and options can vary to include programming switch on the faceplate of the device. Examples include Starkey's 3 series CIC, Unitron's Quantum CIC and Phonak's Virto CIC
The ITC hearing aid is made slightly larger than the CIC to incorporate some minor differences - Directional microphones as well as a larger battery size, the 312. This means that you get longer battery life and assistance with localisation with the use of the directional microphones. For those with dexterity issues, this style of custom device would be more suitable as it is slightly larger than the CIC/IIC devices, and as it is a larger device it can cater for a greater hearing loss. Examples include Starkey's 3 series ITC, Unitron's Quantum ITC and Phonak's Virto ITC
The ITE hearing aid is designed to fit the whole ear (concha) and is made slightly larger than the ITC hearing aid. Its features are similar to that of the ITC however boasts the larger sized 13 battery for increased manageability especially for those with dexterity and even sight difficulties. The ITE has the largest fitting range of the custom aids and can reach down to a severe to profound hearing loss. Examples include Starkey's 3 series ITE, Unitron's Quantum ITE and Phonak's Virto ITE
The Behind The Ear hearing aid is the more traditional of styles of hearing aid worn over the ear. It is capable of fitting the most severe of hearing losses when used with a traditional style of tubing and ear mould. Like the ITE hearing aid it uses the sized 13 battery but can also use the bigger sized 675 battery depending on the power level required based on the hearing loss. Examples include Starkey's 3 series BTE, Unitron's Quantum BTE and Phonak's Bolero BT
The Receiver In the Canal hearing aid is arguably the most widely fitted hearing aid, and most practical aid in the market. With its modular construction, it provides a very discreet style of hearing as the device is a mini style commonly using a 312 sized battery and sitting on top of the ear with a very fine wire connecting device to the ear canal. This style of aid provides the most natural of all style fittings as it can be fit as an open style allowing maximum air flow and natural sound into the canal. It is most beneficial for those who have a mid to high frequency hearing loss (greatest kind of hearing loss - age related), but can also be modified to accommodate even the most severe of losses. Examples include Unitron's Moxi Kiss, Phonak's Audeo series, Starkey's Xino series