The smallest custom style, IIC hearing instruments sit invisibly in or past the second bend of the ear canal. IIC are specifically designed for mild to moderate hearing loss.
CIC and IIC models are custom-made and fit deep in the ear canal, many times seeming to be “invisible”. While offering cosmetic advantages, these tiny devices have limitations, including shorter battery life, size restrictions due to ear anatomy, proneness to wax/moisture damage, and limited controls/functionality.
ITC hearing instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because they're slightly larger than CIC models, they have a longer battery life, and can host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments, and controls such as volume controls. They fit mild and moderate hearing losses.
Full shell hearing aid models sit flush within the outer ear bowl. Their size allows the maximum number of additional controls and features such as directional microphones, which require space on the outer portion of the instrument. They use a larger battery size than the smaller styles, and can fit a larger receiver with enough power for even some severe hearing losses. Because of their flexibility, they're widely recommended for mild to severe hearing loss.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids sit behind or on top of the outer ear, with tubing that routes sounds down into the ear that connects to an ear tip or earmold to secure them in the ear canal. BTEs come in colors to blend with hair or skin tones, and even chrome colors, leopard print and other funky designs to suit personal styles.
Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) models, also known as RITE (receiver-in-the-ear), are mini BTEs that have the receiver (speaker) of the instrument incorporated in the ear tip, instead of in the main body of the instrument. RIC instruments fit mild to severe hearing losses and offer as many features as the standard BTE but in a smaller and more cosmetically appealing style.