Hearing aids come in different sizes, colours and styles. Some hearing aids are bigger, others more discreet and some virtually invisible. The most widespread types of hearing aids are behind the ear and in the ear hearing aids. Although very small, these hearing aids are still visible from a certain angle or a face-to-face conversation. That is why many people with a hearing impairment feel uncomfortable wearing them and want a device that is even more discreet or hidden.
While there are surgical solutions to this issue, with an implant, not every hearing problem is suitable for it or demands such intervention. Manufacturers have realised the need for invisible hearing aids and luckily, they exist. Hidden hearing aids can be completely in the canal, in the canal and half shell hearing aids.
Completely in the canal
The completely in the canal hearing aids are for those who demand a hearing aid that will not be visible at all. They are the smallest possible option for a hearing aid and are custom fit for the individual ear. A CIC is placed deep into the ear canal and closely imitate the normal hearing process because the speaker is near the eardrum and can improve the sound perception and the microphone, sitting in the ear canal, may offer a better reception of the signal.
However, the completely in the canal hearing aids are not suitable for everyone. They support mild to moderate hearing loss and do not fit in every ear canal. Other challenges include:
- short battery life
- difficult manipulation of functions due to the tiny size
- option for manual volume control is rarely available
- not suitable for children due to growth of the ear canal
- greater chance of feedback as the speaker and microphone are very close to each other
- can be easily damaged by moisture and earwax
- a ‘blocked-up’ sensation for some users
- not suitable for people with frequent ear infections
In the canal
In the canal hearing aids are another type of very small and hidden hearing aid. They are slightly smaller than in the ear hearing aids but bigger than the completely in the ear devices. They are not visible from the front as they go in the entrance of the ear. Usually, people that do not qualify for the CIC are attracted to in the canal hearing aids as next in size.
Both completely in the canal and in the canal hearing aids share similar advantages and disadvantages. In the canal hearing aids are recommended for mild to moderate hearing loss. They offer natural reception of sound as the microphone is placed inside the ear canal. However, they still have the same drawbacks as the CIC hearing aids due to their small size and location.
The half-shell hearing aid is a custom made hearing aid smaller than the in the ear hearing aid. It sits in the lower part of the bowl shaped area of the outer ear. This type of hearing aid is suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss. It’s slightly bigger size allows easier manipulation and control and fits most ears. Still, it is susceptible to earwax and moisture and can be easily damaged. It’s battery life is shorter than that of behind the ear hearing aids and in the ear hearing aids.