COVID-19 Update: With social distancing and stay-at-home orders, many seniors are struggling with loneliness and isolation. We’ve developed a list of products that caregivers or seniors can purchase to help older adults stay happy, healthy and connected, whether they are aging in place at home or in an assisted living community.

Hearing aids are small medical devices designed to help individuals with hearing loss by amplifying and clarifying sounds. There are four main types and styles of hearing aids: behind-the-ear, mini-behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, and in-the-canal. While all removable hearing aids are equipped with a microphone, battery and receiver, there are some significant differences in the design and technology used in the main hearing aid types and styles. 

Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aids

Also known as traditional hearing aids, this style of hearing aid consists of a small plastic case that’s connected to a fitted earmold that sits just inside the ear. The case contains a battery, microphone and sound processor that amplifies sounds, which are channeled through a small piece of clear tubing to the earmold. 

Behind-the-ear hearing aids (BTE) provide sound amplification for those suffering from all levels of hearing loss. This style of hearing aid can also be used in conjunction with other assistive devices and amplification systems, such as telephone and television adapters, induction loop and FM systems.

Because all of the electronic components in a BTE hearing aid are located outside of the ear canal, this style is often used by individuals who suffer from chronic ear infections or excessive ear wax buildup. BTE devices can also be ideal for patients with limited fine motor skills who may be unable to insert and remove smaller, in-canal hearing aids. 

Mini Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aids

Mini BTE hearing aids are essentially scaled-down versions of traditional behind-the-ear (BTE) devices. As with full-sized BTE hearing aids, mini BTE hearing aids consist of a small plastic case containing a microphone, battery and sound processor that connects to an earmold via a small plastic tube. 

What distinguishes mini BTE’s from traditional BTE’s is size. Mini BTE’s are significantly smaller than conventional hearing aids, making this type of hearing aid lighter and easier to conceal. This style can also be fitted with either a traditional earmold or an open fit earmold, which many users find more comfortable and produces significantly less feedback than earmolds that fill the ear canal. 

In-The-Ear and In-The-Canal Hearing Aids

Also called all-in-one hearing aids, in-the-ear hearing aid components including the battery are contained inside a fitted earmold. This type of device eliminates the need for an external case. As with in-the-ear models, in-the-canal hearing aids are all-in-one devices that contain all the components in a single unit.