When you decided to get hearing aids for the first time, what was your primary concern, besides that they would help you hear better?
You probably worried they would be noticeable to others.
A survey showed that 48% of people who have hearing loss but who have not yet purchased hearing aids list the stigma of hearing aids as their top concern.
But what if your hearing aids were invisible?
Since the stigma of hearing aids can delay people from getting them, finding hearing aids that are less noticeable—even invisible—would help these people to seek treatment for their hearing loss and help to prevent further damage.
Fortunately, technology has caught up to this desire to have invisible hearing aids. Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids are available and are virtually invisible to everyone around you.
Here are some of the benefits of IIC hearing aids:
Invisibility. IICs are the smallest of the available in-the-ear hearing aids. They sit so far down the ear canal that most people will not be able to see them at all. If the presence of a behind-the-ear hearing aid is stopping you from taking this step, IICs may be right for you.
Sound Quality. Another benefit of IICs is the natural sound quality. Because it sits far down in your ear canal, it is able to use the natural acoustics of your ear to funnel the sound. Also, since there are no tubes or wires, there is nothing to get in the way of the sound. Users report better localization of sound and an easier adjustment to hearing aid use.
Natural Feeling. With other hearing aids, an occulusion effect can occur. This means sounds are hollower, and the user’s own voice may sound too loud. Since IICs don’t trap sound between the hearing aid and your ear canal, this effect is eliminated and the sounds are less distorted.
Energy Efficient. Since IICs sit so close to the ear drum, the power output is lower, and also helps to prevent feedback (especially when on the phone).
Drawbacks of IICs
No Advanced Directionality. Larger hearing aids often have more than one microphone, which allows the wearer to focus on a sound in a certain direction and reduce background noise. Since IICs are so small, they are unable to provide more than one microphone and directionality benefits are reduced.
Not Super-powered. IICs benefit those with mild to moderate hearing loss most. If you have severe or profound hearing loss, IICs may not be right for you.
Short Battery Life. Because of their size, they use a smaller battery that is exhausted more quickly than the larger batteries on other units. This means the battery will need to be changed more often.
Shape. Some peoples’ ears are shaped in such a way that the IICs don’t work for them. If your ear canal is short or small or has an irregular shape, the IICs might not fit.
IIC hearing aids are a great option for some people, especially those with mild hearing loss who are concerned with the cosmetic aspect of hearing aids. They do have their disadvantages, however, so come in for a consultation to discuss if IIC hearing aids might be right for you.
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The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to audiology, feel free to contact Los Gatos Audiology, with a convenient hearing center located in Los Gatos, CA, byor by calling 408.703.0772.