Is Smaller Better? Why Smaller Hearing Aids Aren’t Always the Best Solution

When it comes to hearing aids, many people don’t want anyone else to see the devices they’re wearing, and arrive at their first appointment convinced they want completely in-the-canal “invisible” hearing aids. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of these tiny devices, and why you should consider all your options.

Many people equate smaller prescription hearing aids with being technologically advanced or superior, but that’s not necessarily the case. It is true that they have improved over time. Smaller, completely in-the-canal (CICs) or invisible in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids, are less visible, but patients can be bothered by the “plugged up” sound and full feeling they have with these devices because they fit deep in the ear canal.

Smaller Doesn’t Always Mean Technologically Advanced

There are several styles of prescription hearing aids, such as open-fit behind-the-ear, or receiver-in-the-canal that are often “invisible” and offer many advantages over other in-the-ear styles. Sometimes, the technology you think you want may not be available in the tiniest in-the-ear style, but is an option in another style that is just as cosmetically appealing.

For example, small in-the-canal hearing aids have room for just one microphone, while most other styles have two advanced, adaptive directional microphones. This can provide advantages when communicating in more complex listening environments, like places with background noise.

Understand the Many Hearing Aid Options before Deciding

All styles of prescription hearing aids offer unique advantages, so remember to keep an open mind when discussing the options with your audiologist. There are many great discreet options such as open fit behind-the-ear or receiver in-the-canal (RIC) devices that fit behind the ear and are connected to the ear canal via a very thin, clear tube or wire that is unnoticeable. The colors of these devices are designed to blend with almost any hair or skin color and they are lightweight, comfortable, and often work better for individuals with more significant hearing loss.

Pros and Cons of Small Hearing Aids

What are some other pros and cons to these tiny prescription hearing aids that you may not have considered?


  • Attractive and discreet—these devices are often nearly invisible—a feature that appeals to many hearing aid wearers.
  • There are no external tubes or wires running from the hearing aid to your ear.
  • These hearing aids are custom molded to your ear canal and some wearers find them comfortable or easy to wear.
  • Since these hearing aids sit inside the ear canal, they don’t interfere with holding a telephone to your ear, or wearing a headset.
  • They’re protected by the outer ear, and may be less likely to pick up wind noise when outside.


  • CICs and IICs aren’t suitable for individuals with more severe or advanced hearing loss. They work best for mild to moderate hearing loss.
  • How well they fit in your ear canal depends on the shape of your ear canal. These aren’t a good solution for everyone and sometimes physical comfort can be challenging.
  • Traditional batteries last less time in these smaller hearing aids and can be more difficult to replace, unless they are rechargeable.
  • The small size limits some of the features many hearing aid wearers want, such as directional microphones or Bluetooth.
  • These devices simply don’t have enough room in them to hold the technology components. If you experience difficulty in noisy backgrounds or groups, this may not be the best option for you.
  • Since these devices fit deeper in the ear canal, they often have higher repair rates due to their exposure to body oils, ear wax and moisture/perspiration.

If you’re in the market for prescription hearing aids and think you’d prefer completely in-the-canal devices, talk with a doctoral-level audiologist. A diagnostic hearing evaluation, which includes a physical examination of your ears, as well as the type of hearing loss you have, can help determine which hearing aids are the best fit for you.

Associated Audiologists offers a wide range of prescription hearing aid options from the world’s leading manufacturers and takes your hearing loss, lifestyle and budget into consideration when making a recommendation.

Schedule an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist.