In-the-Ear Hearing Aids or ITEs are hearing aids that fit in the outer ear (concha). The components of ITE hearing aids are contained inside a full shell, which is typically made of a hard plastic material. ITEs are custom made to fit the wearer’s outer ear and covers most of it when worn.
While not as big as Behind-the-Ear hearing aids, they are also quite visible especially when standing face to face with someone or when looking directly at the wearer’s ear.
Like other hearing aids, ITE hearing aids come equipped with the basic components like a microphone that picks up sound waves and converts it to electrical signals, an amplifier that makes the sound louder, a receiver that converts the electrical signal back to sound waves and sends it to the ear, and of course, batteries to power the hearing aids.
ITE hearing aids contain bigger batteries compared to In-the-Canal, Completely-in-the-Canal, or Invisible-in-the-Canal hearing aids. As a result, ITEs offer more amplification and are generally more durable than their smaller counterparts.
Modern ITE models come with additional features to make them more functional and suitable for various everyday situations.
Most modern ITE hearing aids come equipped with a telecoil, a magnetic coil that receives sounds using the circuitry of the hearing aid instead of the microphone. Telecoils are especially useful when using the telephone and can also be used with hearing loop systems installed in large public areas to allow the user to easily focus on the sound of interest.
Other ITE hearing aids also come equipped with directional microphones, which improves signal to noise ratio as it eliminates sounds from behind and amplifies sounds coming from the front.
ITEs can also come with user controls outside of the shell so that the user can adjust program settings and speaker volume manually.
Advantages of ITE Hearing Aids
- Suitable for mild to severe hearing loss.
- Some ITE models can be used by children (e.g. silicon type)
While ITEs are generally not recommended for children because the shell cannot accommodate the growth of children’s ears, a new type made out of a silicon material instead of a plastic shell has been designed to address this issue. It is worth noting, however, that ITE hearing aids are only recommended for children aged 10 and above.
- Custom Made to Fit the User
ITE hearing aids are generally bigger and more visible than ITC, CIC, and IIC hearing aids but since the shell is custom made to fit the user, the size will depend on the degree of hearing loss and the shape of the user’s ear.
- Longer battery life and provides more amplification because of its size.
- Easier to insert and remove.
Disadvantages of ITE Hearing Aids
- Cosmetic Disadvantages
While not as visible as BTE hearing aids, ITE hearing aids are difficult to conceal because of their size and placement in the outer ear. ITEs are easily noticeable compared to smaller varieties like In-the-Canal and Completely-in-the-Canal hearing aids.
- Feedback Problems
Due to the proximity of the microphone and receiver, users may experience feedback problems, especially people with severe hearing loss. Many modern ITEs, however, come equipped with feedback regulation controls to address this issue.
- Requires daily maintenance and cleaning to avoid moisture damage.
ITE hearing aids offer many listening advantages that smaller hearing aids cannot offer but like all styles of hearing aids, it carries some disadvantages as well. Consult your audiologist to find out if ITE hearing aids are suitable for your degree of hearing loss.