Is your hearing letting you down? Are you concerned about the bulky look of hearing aids? Would you prefer to keep your hearing health to yourself? Invisible hearing aids might be the right solution for you.
Invisible hearing aids are the smallest hearing aid on the market today. They are extremely discreet, but that doesn’t mean they are for everyone. Learn how invisible hearing aids compare to other types on the market. We'll also share benefits and disadvantages that will help you choose the best device for you.
What Is an Invisible Hearing Aid?
Invisible hearing aids are as the name suggests. They are virtually invisible to anyone but you, with a custom-fit inside of your ear canal. Invisible hearing aids are also known as Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC) hearing aids. They sit deep inside your ear canal, which is ideal for those looking for discretion.
Invisible Hearing Aids vs. Other Hearing Aid Styles
IIC hearing aids are the most discreet hearing aids on the market. The wearer places them deep inside their ear canal, so deep that a small pull-out cord removes them. This discretion is ideal if you have mild to moderate hearing loss and prefer to keep that to yourself. A stranger would have to look extremely close to see an IIC hearing aid.
If your hearing loss is more severe, IIC hearing aids aren’t an ideal match. Since they’re so small, they don’t come with manual volume controls to adjust volume based on the noise in your surrounding environment. Their limited size also means smaller batteries with a shorter lifespan.
CIC hearing aids are similar to IIC hearing aids, but they don’t fit quite as deep into your ear canal. The minuscule removal cord will remain visible outside the ear canal.
Like IIC hearing aids, they’re very discreet and custom-fitted to your ears. The small size of CIC hearing aids means they suffer from the same drawbacks as IIC hearing aids. They are too small to provide both long-lasting battery life and exterior controls. If you have dexterity issues, IIC and CIC hearing aids will be challenging to remove and replace.
In-the-Canal Hearing Aids (ITC)
ITC hearing aids sit in the lower part of your outer ear bowl. They are larger than the IIC and CIC styles, giving the wearer more control over them but also making them less discreet. The added size enables a longer battery life, directional microphones, and volume controls.
There are a few different behind-the-ear styles, including BTEs (behind-the-ear) and RICs (receiver-in-canal). Both BTEs and RICs sit behind the ear, connecting to the ear canal with a tube and tip. The receiver of a BTE is in the body of the hearing aid, with sound traveling through clear tubing. The RIC has a wire that leads to the receiver, which is in the tip inside your ear canal.
These styles are more visible than IICs or CICs, but the clear, thin tubing is still quite discreet. Behind-the-ear styles manage any kind of hearing loss from mild to severe. They have better battery life, volume and environment controls, and above-average sound quality.
For more information on the different types of hearing aids, read our Hearing Aid Buyer’s Guide.
The Benefits of Invisible Hearing Aids
Invisible to Anyone but You
The main reason someone might choose an invisible hearing aid is the look they provide. They are nearly invisible to casual observers. IICs sit very far inside the ear canal, so even if you have short hair, they’re virtually undetectable.
If you are self-conscious about wearing hearing aids, look into invisible options. That said, this solution is only suitable for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Never let aesthetics get in the way of your health. Hearing loss is a serious health concern that should not go untreated. Listen to the advice of healthcare professionals. If you need hearing aids that are larger than IICs, choose the solution that will meet your hearing needs. The latest models are surprisingly discreet.
Deep Fit Provides Natural Sound Quality
Because they sit so deep in your ear canal, IICs preserve the natural way sound interacts with the shape of your ear. There aren’t any wires to get in the way, and the small size of the device means your ear won’t feel plugged up. If you’re using hearing aids for the first time, the natural sound quality makes it easier to adjust.
The larger the size and the more space a hearing aid takes up in your ear, the more plugged up your ear canal may feel. It’s similar to how you might feel wearing earplugs. This results in the occlusion effect, where voices sound hollow, echoey, and booming. Invisible hearing aids reduce the occlusion effect by sitting deeper in the ear, resulting in less internal vibration.
Disadvantages of Invisible Hearing Aids
Not Suitable for Those With Severe Hearing Loss
Invisible hearing aids are not powerful enough for those with severe hearing loss. Their small size cannot accommodate the speakers and processing power required.
IICs can only fit a single microphone, so they can’t support directional features that help isolate a person’s voice and reduce background noise. Larger hearing aids have more microphones that enable clearer conversations in crowded environments. Invisible hearing aids can't do this, which means they are best suited to those with mild hearing loss.
No Outer Controls
The small size means there’s no room for outer controls, such as manual volume and program controls. You won’t be able to adjust to different sound environments with invisible hearing aids.
Difficult for Those With Dexterity Issues
Invisible hearing aids are difficult to place if you have troubles with dexterity. Those with arthritis, dexterity issues, or problems with vision may struggle. If you don’t insert hearing aids correctly, they won’t work as intended.
Need More Frequent Battery Replacement
The smaller the device, the smaller the battery needs to be to fit inside. The smaller the battery, the less power it will provide. Invisible hearing aids drain batteries fast. Discretion won’t mean much if your ability to hear suddenly diminishes mid-conversation.
Difficult to Clean and May Need Frequent Repairs
The deeper you place the hearing aid in your ear canal, the more susceptible it is to moisture and ear wax build-up. This means that invisible hearing aids will need repair more often. They are also more difficult to keep clean. If you struggle with dexterity, it's yet another challenge.
Bottom Line: Are Invisible Hearing Aids Right for You?
If you want more functionality and customization, you will most likely need a more visible device. If you have severe to profound hearing loss, invisible hearing aids are likely not right for you, as they do not have the processing power or features needed to assist you with your hearing loss.
If your hearing loss is only mild to moderate, then it comes down to what you value most from your hearing aids. If discretion is what you are most concerned about, invisible hearing aids may be the right choice. Learn which top hearing aid brands sell invisible hearing aids.
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1 in 5 Americans have hearing loss.
When was the last time you had your hearing tested? Catching hearing loss early is one of the best preventative measures. The sooner you detect hearing loss, the sooner you can get the hearing care you need.
The free hearing test from MDHearing only takes 8 minutes to complete. It’s available online and will provide important personalized information on your hearing. Once you have your results, it will be easier to determine the hearing aid that’s best for you.
At MDHearing, we’re always available to answer your questions about hearing loss and the various hearing aids available. Our team of specialists can also tell you whether our FDA-registered, affordable hearing care solutions are a good match for your specific needs. Contact us any time, as we really enjoy discussing our products!
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