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What Are Invisible-in-canal (IIC) Hearing Aids?

an audiologist showing her patient a diagram of the inner ear

The development of technology has meant that hearing aids have come a long way since the first models. Many people were put off by hearing aids as they were pretty bulky devices that fit behind the ear. However, today they are made so discreet that no one needs ever know that you have one. This is especially true of Invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids, which are the smallest custom hearing aids available today. They are designed with your comfort in mind as they are sculptured to fit entirely inside your ear canal and are, therefore as well as being comfortable; they are almost, if not completely, invisible.

Not only this, but now IIC hearing aids are smaller and smarter than ever, meaning that you can hear more sounds around you than ever before and while no one else will notice you're wearing them, you will certainly notice a big difference.

So, what are the benefits of IIC hearing aids?

As mentioned, they are small in size and invisible in appearance, and unlike other hearing aids, the microphone is placed in the ear canal, as opposed to behind the ear, which helps with things like using the telephone and with localizing the direction of sound from in front and behind you.

IICs are the smallest kind of hearing aid around, and they fit the furthest down in the ear canal, making them well hidden and virtually undetectable by others, so they are ideal if you are worried about having behind-the-ear hearing aids which everyone can see.

Because IICs are placed deep inside your ear canal, they preserve the natural cues from the sound interacting with the shape of your ear. This means that you can get a more natural sound quality, which makes it easier to adjust to using hearing aids.

As well as sounding more natural, they feel more natural too, and many people say that they improve how you hear your own voice while wearing them – which is often described by hearing aid users as too loud.

Because they are placed much closer to the eardrum than other hearing aids, IICs do not require as much power to be able to reach the same loudness for you. 

This all sounds great, but of course, as with anything, there have to be limitations.

So, what are the negatives of IIC hearing aids?

Due to their smaller receiver size, they are less powerful than other types of hearing aids. IIC hearing aids have a single Omni-directional microphone that is sensitive to sounds arriving from all around you. Because of this, it means that they are not always great for you to hear something specific when there is background noise around you. You also have to have an ear anatomy of a certain shape and size to house all the electronic components inside.

They also require more maintenance and are more susceptible to damage as they are inside the ear, meaning that earwax can get inside the microphone port, which is inside the ear canal. While they do have a ventilation hole, it is only small due to the limited space, so this increases the chances of you having issues with sweat and moisture issues and hearing of internal sounds.

Their smaller surface area means they are more likely to feedback due to acoustic leakage and they also have a higher chance of coming loose whilst you are talking and chewing. IIC hearing aids are also not appropriate if you have poor vision or manual dexterity.

IICs are not strong enough for those with severe hearing loss and are most beneficial for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. This is because they are so small, so there just isn’t enough room on the aid for more advanced technology such as powerful speakers. Another problem with the size is the short battery life. This means that the battery needs to be changed more often than those in larger hearing aids, so you'll end up paying more for batteries that need to be replaced more often.

Finally, when it comes to IIC hearing aids, they don't fit everyone. Your ear canal could be too small, or if it is shaped in a way that the IIC device cannot be placed in the right area, then you won't be able to have them fitted. 

If you have severe hearing loss, there are many options to get a discreet hearing solution. You will need to have your requirements examined by an audiologist so that you can both determine the best fit for your needs.

To learn more about how Arkansas Professional Hearing Care can help you, call today at 501-614-7904.