You’ve probably seen pictures of tiny hearing aids that are advertised as “invisible” because they fit deep in the ear canal.
Many people equate these smaller devices with being technologically advanced or superior, but that’s not necessarily the case. Smaller, completely in-the-canal (CICs) or invisible in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids, are less visible, but patients often are bothered by the “plugged up” feeling they have with these devices because they fit so deep in the ear canal.
Smaller Doesn’t Always Mean Technologically Advanced
There are several styles of 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.
Pros and Cons of Invisible Hearing Aids
What are some other pros and cons to these tiny 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.
- 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.
- Batteries last less time in these smaller hearing aids and can be more difficult to replace.
- 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. 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.
Explore the Many Hearing Aid Options before Deciding
All styles of 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 severe hearing loss.
Let Your Audiologist be Your Guide
As you are probably learning, hearing aids are complex, but you shouldn’t make this decision alone. The doctoral-level audiologists at Associated Audiologists can assess your hearing loss, lifestyle and budget, then recommend the best hearing aid for your individual circumstances.
Schedule an appointment for a comprehensive hearing evaluation with a doctoral-level audiologist today. Call us at 1-855-547-8745 or schedule an appointment online.