Types of Hearing Devices

Rocky Mountain Ear, Nose, & Throat Center | Allergy Center | Hearing Center | Missoula, Bozeman & Hamilton, MT

Hearing Aids:

  • Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes and styles in order to accommodate a range of hearing losses and external ear anatomy.
  • Receiver in the Canal (RIC): this is the most popular style of hearing aid as it is the most versatile for varying degrees of hearing loss and fits well for most people. It is also quite discreet. A RIC houses most of the electronic components and microphones behind the ear. The receiver (or speaker) then fits in the ear canal opening with either a replaceable dome or a custom ear mold.
  • Behind the Ear (BTE): Similar to the RIC, all electrical components are behind the ear including the receiver. A tube transmits the sound to the ear through a custom mold. This is the most common type of hearing device use for children and those with a severe hearing loss.
  • In the Ear (ITE): An ITE is a hearing aid that sits in the ear and ear canal. No components sit behind the ear. This style is most appropriate for people with some degree of low-frequency loss and can be used for someone with a severe hearing loss.
  • In the Canal (ITC): Similar to an ITE, however, less material protrudes from the ear canal and therefore is a smaller hearing aid.
  • Completely in the Canal (CIC) and Invisible in the Canal (IIC): The smallest of the custom hearing aids. CICs fit deep in the canal and very little is visible from the outside. IICs are meant to fit very deep in the ear canal and are typical not visible from the outside. Due to their smaller size, not all features of a hearing aid may be available and individual ear canal size will play a factor into fit and comfort.

We work with the following manufacturers of hearing devices. For more information about each manufacture or to see some samples of the above described styles, please see the following websites:

Implantable Devices:

  • Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHAs): BAHAs are used for people with unilateral hearing losses, mixed hearing loses (middle ear and inner ear involvement), and when the anatomy of the outer ear excludes candidacy for traditional hearing devices. A BAHA requires a surgeon to place a titanium post in the skull or a magnet under the skill near the ear. The BAHA then attaches to the post or the magnet and transmits sound through the skull.
  • Cochlear Implants (CIs): Cochlear implants are used for people who receive very little to no benefit from hearing aids. For more information, please see our cochlear implant section.
  • The Earlens: The Earlens is a unique device that comes in two parts. One part is a small motor component that is places on the ear drum by an ENT. This device sits on the ear drum similar to how a contact lens sits on the eye. Then, the recipient wears a hearing aid that looks like a RIC (see above), however, the receiver does not emit sound, but rather invisible light (photons) that activates the motor on the ear drum. The biggest advantage to this device is the increase frequency range than the device can provide compared to traditional hearing aids. For more information, please follow the link to their website: https://earlens.com/

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