Which Hearing Aid Style is Most Popular?


Hearing aid styles have come a long way since the analog linear technologies of the 1980s and the automatic signal processing (ASP), digitally programmable technologies of the 1990s. Today, hearing ads are more advanced than ever, and it shows in the popularity of different hearing aid styles over the last 30 years. Here’s what to know about the history and popularity of hearing aid styles and what you can expect going forward.

The different styles of hearing aids have changed drastically since the introduction of the device in 1920. From the original analog aids of the 1980’s to the introduction of digitally programmable devices in the 1990’s, hearing aid styles have evolved in many ways. Today, hearing aids are more advanced than ever. Here’s what you need to know about the history and popularity of hearing aid styles before you decide to treat your hearing loss.

The 30 Year History of Hearing Aid Style Popularity

From 1991 to the mid-2000s, the in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) styles were most popular. In fact, custom ITE and ITC hearing aids made up about 80% of the US hearing aid market in 1991. CIC hearing aids have always been a favorite of patients who want the most “invisible” option, and the miniaturization of circuitry and zinc batteries made them more widely accessible. However, in 1996 the first digital signal processing hearing aids came onto the market. During this time, more than every 6 in 7 hearing aids sold in the United States were a variation of the ITE model.

Another technology that transformed the turn of the century hearing aid market was directional microphone technology. When this was implemented into behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, it changed the way hearing aids could improve people’s ability to understand speech in noise. Thus, the BTE became virtually the only option for people with severe hearing loss (who required more volume). However, in the early 2000s, reciever-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid technology emerged and transformed the market. RICs quickly grew in popularity due to their smaller size and more advanced features, and, as of 2020, they make up 79% of all US hearing aids sold. 

Looking Forward

It’s likely that RICs will continue to dominate the hearing aid market. However, there is still much demand for all of the other styles mentioned. One factor that could drastically change the hearing aid market is the implementation of over-the-counter devices, increasing the demand for RICs. There has been much discussion about whether or not the recent implementation of over-the-counter hearing devices will drastically change the market. Many audiologists believe this will not be the case, as hearing loss is not something that can be treated so simply. Individuals with hearing loss need to work closely with a Doctor of Audiology, to customize both their technology and treatment program to fit their needs. This is something that is not included with the purchase of an OTC device. It’s also likely there will continue to be a demand for custom ITE devices.

Schedule an Appointment

At Hearing Doctors of New Jersey, we offer a wide variety of hearing aid styles and technologies that can match your lifestyle, technology demands, and comfort level. Combined with our proprietary H.E.A.R. Method™, Dr. Rhee Nesson & her team can help you obtain a comprehensive look at your hearing system and establish a customized treatment program.  To learn more about our hearing aid selection and meet with our team for an appointment, contact our Livingston, NJ office by calling or filling out our online form.

To learn more about hearing loss and hearing aids, download our FREE Insider’s Guide on how to finally hear better.