Invisible In the Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids
Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids are very similar to Completely In the Canal (CIC) hearing aids except that they are slightly smaller and are worn deeper in the ear canal making them completely invisible, even if someone were to peer inside your ear. This means that the only way that someone would be able to tell if you are wearing a hearing aid is if you tell them! According to a recent study up to 40% of people would be more likely to wear a hearing aid if it were completely invisible and so Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids have been designed for these users. Insertion and removal is via a small wire which protrudes from the hearing aid to the outer part of your ear meaning that you are able to hold onto this when you are putting them in or taking them out.
Obviously with a hearing aid that is small enough to fit entirely into your ear canal there will have to be some compromises on things like battery size (and thus power and battery life) and the amount of technology (and thus features) that can be incorporated into Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids. This means that they are generally only suitable for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, as they just can’t produce enough power for users with more severe hearing loss. However if discretion is your main priority then Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids could be a great option for you.
As with all hearing aids types there are both advantages and disadvantages to Invisible in The Canal (IIC) hearing aids. Have a look at our summary of these below or contact our expert team to find out more. We can also arrange for your free hearing test with one of our network of qualified local audiologists.
Advantages of Invisible In the Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids
- Invisible - it says so in the name and is probably the main reason that people choose Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids, the fact that they sit deep enough in your ear canal that they are completely invisible to other people.
- Natural Sound Profile - because Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids sit deep within the ear canal itself, it means that the receiver is able to almost directly interact with the eardrum and thus the hairs (stereocilia) within your inner ear that transmit sound waves to your auditory nerve. This results in a much more natural sound profile.
- Directionality Detection - again because Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids sit within the ear canal, it means that the ear is left free to perform its natural function of channeling sound waves down towards the ear canal. This is especially advantageous because it means that the natural directionality of the sound can still be communicated to the inner ear, resulting in users being much more able to detect the directionality of sounds i.e. if someone is behind or to the side of you.
- Inconspicuous Control - obviously it would be impossible to put any controls directly onto an Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing. This then means that all changes and adjustments have to be made remotely via a dedicated remote control device, some of which are small enough to fit on your key ring.
- Comfortable - because Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids are made from a custom mould of your ear canal and that they sit deeper in the ear canal and rest against a more bony part of your ear than a Completely In the Canal (CIC) hearing aid, it means that they sit very securely and comfortably in your ear. In fact many users report being barely able to tell that they are there at all.
- Reduced Wind Noise - as Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids sit completely within the ear canal it means that issues of wind noise detection are completely eliminated.
- Natural Telephone Use - compared to many other types of hearing aids where a telephone has to be held slightly above or to the back to ear, Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids sit deep enough within the ear to mean that a telephone can be used in the usual position. This can be a real bonus for many people who find adjusting to an unnatural feeling phone position very difficult.
- Unobtrusive To Helmets etc - the same reason that applies to being able to use telephones naturally means that Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids can easily be used whilst wearing helmets or other headgear. This makes them much more suitable for users with active lifestyles.
Disadvantages to Invisible In the Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids
- Reduced Features/Power Levels - to be small enough to completely disappear with the ear canal, Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids are only able to incorporate smaller processors/amplifiers etc. This means that they may not be able to deliver the power levels required for users with more severe hearing loss. They also may not be able to accommodate some of the extra technological functions that you can find in some larger sized hearing aids and can only include one microphone. However as mentioned above they don’t tend to suffer with the directionality issues of other out or behind the ear hearing aid types.
- No Binaural Capability - because of their position completely within the ear canal, there is no option of communication between two Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids. This means that if you wear two IIC hearing aids then each will have to be adjusted separately.
- Decreased Battery Power/Life - the smaller size of Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids means that they are only able to accommodate the smallest battery sizes. This means that their batteries need to be changed much more frequently and they are generally not able to provide the amplification power required for some users with more severe levels of hearing loss.
- Only Controllable Remotely - due to the position of Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids within the ear canal itself, it is not possible to include any direct control buttons etc on the hearing aids themselves. This means that all adjustments etc need to be made remotely via a remote device which may be off-putting or unsuitable for some users. They also don’t have the option of bluetooth connectivity to smartphones apps that could be used to control them.
- Requires High Levels of Dexterity - even with the insertion/removal wire that attaches onto an Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aid there is still a high level of dexterity required to put them in and take them out. This shouldn't pose a problem for most users, however it could prove too difficult for those with compromised motor skills.
- Increased Maintenance - due to their position within the ear canal, Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids are more susceptible to damage from moisture within the ear and clogging up with ear wax. If they are carefully and regularly cleaned, maintained and dehumidified this should not cause you too many issues, however this level of maintenance may be unsuitable or off-putting for some users.
- Occlusion Issues - Invisible In the Canal (CIC) hearing aids can cause problems of occlusion as they completely block the ear canal. This results in symptoms such as; hearing your own voice louder or it sounding hollow, feeling that your ear is blocked or chewing food sounding noisy or unpleasant. In some larger styles of hearing aids this can be avoided by including a vent in the aid, however the small size of Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids prevents this from being possible in these devices.
- Unsuitable For Some Users - Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids are not suitable for all users, especially if they have particularly small or non-standard shaped ear canals. They are also not suitable for children whose ear canals are still too small.
- Costly - compared to other styles of hearing aids which sit outside of the ear, Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids can be some of the most costly on the market. However some users feel that having a completely invisible hearing aid is well worth the cost.
To find out more about Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids and many of the other hearing aid types available contact our experts today. We can also arrange for your free hearing test with one of our network of qualified local audiologists.
To View full details of other types of Hearing Aid in more detail, learn more by clicking on the links below
Behind The Ear Hearing Aids (BTE)
Open and Receiver In Canal Hearing Aids (Open / RIC)
In The Ear Hearing Aids (ITE)
In The Canal Hearing Aids (ITC)
Completely In the Canal Hearing Aids (CIC)
Super Power Hearing Aids
For more of a summary of each type of hearing aid available and what each represents you can view more by click the link.