Hearing aids come in many different shapes and sizes, but the three most common ones you’ll see are behind-the-ear, in-the-ear and in-the-canal.

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

BTE hearing aids have been around for a very long time and are some of the most common hearing aid styles that you’ll see. They’re powerful, versatile and perfect for all uses. BTE hearing aids consist of a small unit that typically sits behind your ear. A small flexible tube with a speaker on the end goes into your ear, and this is what plays the amplified sound. Any processing, filtering and other features are all contained within the unit itself. This is where you’ll find the microphone, buttons and more.

One of the biggest advantages of BTE hearing aids is that they’re very reliable. They are not as finicky as most hearing aids, they’re quite sturdy compared to other hearing aids and failures rarely happen. They’re also very easy to use and often come packed with features and a very respectable battery that lasts longer than other hearing aid styles due to its size.

The only disadvantage of BTE hearing aids that we can think of is perhaps the look and weight. These are a little heavier than smaller hearing aids and this might bother some people, and they also tend to stick out a little if you have short hair that doesn’t cover your ear. Most audiologists will recommend BTE hearing aids for their versatility and ease of use.

In-the-ear (ITE)

ITE hearing aids are often custom-made for the patient because they’re designed to actually fit inside of your ear. These hearing aids will take up most of the space in your ear and are surprisingly comfortable. ITE hearing aids are a single unit and every component is housed inside the shell.

The big draw to ITE hearing aids is that they’re discreet and often easier to handle because it’s just a single device. However, if you have finger dexterity issues then maintenance tasks such as replacing the battery can become problematic, and you might find that they’re a little more flimsy and easier to lose than BTE hearing aids.

Unfortunately, because the microphone and speakers are so close to each other, this can cause feedback issues especially if there are certain mechanisms in the hearing aid that aren’t functioning properly. Battery life tends to be shorter than BTE hearing aids and they are far more sensitive to small issues such as ear wax and moisture damage. Your audiologist will likely create a mould of your ear shape so that they can customize your ITE hearing aid.

In-the-canal (ITC)

ITC hearing aids are very similar to ITE hearing aid with the exception that they sit only in the canal of your ear.

ITC hearing aids come with similar advantages and disadvantages that you would expect from an ITE hearing aid. They’re small and discreet, but often too small and could easily get lost or damaged. You may also have difficulty replacing the battery and, much like ITE hearing aids, they’re prone to issues like damage from moisture, ear wax and physical damage.

However, ITC hearing aids are the smallest and thus most discreet, making them a very attractive option for people that want a comfortable and hidden option.