The Top Pros and Cons of Invisible Hearing AidsPublished On: May 22, 2019
Nearly 20 percent of the American population report some form of hearing loss. That’s 48 million Americans.
Adult males ages 20-69 are twice as likely to experience hearing loss than females. Nearly 15% of children ages 6-19 experience some form of hearing loss.
Many people wait about 15 years from the time they experience hearing loss until they buy their first hearing age. In fact, out of the 28.8 million Americans who would benefit from hearing aids, less than 16% wear them.
There are several factors why individuals may put off purchasing hearing aids, even if they know they need them. One reason is financial constraints. Another major reason is the stigma surrounding hearing aids.
If you’re putting off hearing aids for cosmetic reasons, then you should check out invisible hearing aids.
Want to learn more? Read on to look at the pros and cons of invisible hearing aids and see if they are the right choice for you.
How Hearing Aids Work
Hearing aids work by amplifying sound so that an individual with hearing loss can experience improved listening and communication.
A hearing aid consists of three parts: the speaker, the amplifier, and the microphone. Sound travels through the microphone. The microphone then converts the sound waves into electrical signals. The signals are sent to an amplifier.
The amplifier makes the electrical signals stronger and sends them to the ear through the speaker.
A hearing aid can help those who have sensorineural hearing loss. This form of hearing loss results from damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. This happens from disease, old age, medication, or damage to the ear.
A hearing aid works by making sound vibrations louder. The surviving hair cells pick up those vibrations and send them to the brain.
However, those with extensive damage to the inner ear would not be able to benefit from hearing aids.
What Are the Different Types of Hearing Aids?
There are many different types of hearing aids available. Read on to learn about them.
According to a study, 48% of participants said that stigma was a contributing factor for not wearing hearing aids. And nearly one-third of respondents admitted that they did not want their hearing loss to go public and that hearing aids were noticeable and embarrassing to wear in public.
Many people are embarrassed to wear hearing aids or talk about their hearing problems. Fortunately, technological advances have made it so that you can wear invisible hearing aids.
Invisible hearing aids–which we will discuss in this article–are custom made and placed far inside the ear canal so that they are not seen. These types are the smallest hearing aids and are best for mild to moderate hearing issues.
With invisible hearing aids, you improve your hearing without anyone noticing that you’re wearing them.
While these types of hearing aids are a great technological advancement, not everyone with hearing loss can wear them.
Similar to IIC, these devices are custom-fitted to insert far into the ear canal.
However, a small plastic end of the device shows. Other than this small part, no other part of the hearing aid is noticeable.
An in-the-canal hearing device is also custom-made to fit in the ear canal. However, it does not sit all the way in the ear canal like an IIC. It is much less noticeable than other types of hearing aids, however, you can still see a small part of it outside of your ear.
These types of hearing aids have features that do not fit on IIC hearing aids. They are small and you may have trouble adjusting them because of their size.
There are two styles of in-the-ear hearing aids: full shell and half shell. A full shell style covers most of your outer ear. A half shell style covers only the bottom part of your outer ear.
This hearing aid style is best for those with mild to severe hearing loss. They have features that don’t fit on ITC or ITE styles like volume control. They are also easier to adjust and the battery lasts longer.
However, like the other styles, the speaker part can become clogged with earwax. When wearing this device, you might also experience more wind noise than smaller styles.
If visibility matters to you, these styles are more visible than other types of hearing aids.
A BTE hearing aid fits over the top and behind your ear.
This is the largest style of hearing aid. It is best for those with all types of hearing loss since it can amplify sounds better than other types. This device is also prone to wind noise.
With RIC hearing aids, the receiver fits in the ear canal. Instead of a plastic acoustical tube, this type of hearing aid uses thin electrical wires.
The Pros of Invisible Hearing Aids
Now that we’ve gone over the different types of hearing aids on the market, we can talk about the advantages of invisible hearing aids.
They Are Invisible
The biggest advantage of IIC hearing aids is that others won’t notice that you’re wearing them.
You may feel uncomfortable if people stare at your hearing aids or ask questions about your hearing loss. With invisible hearing aids, you can maintain your privacy.
Reduces the Occlusion Effect
The occlusion effect is a serious issue that happens to those who wear hearing aids. It happens when the sound of your voice becomes distorted and hollow. You may feel like your own voice echoes in your head.
People who experience the occlusion effect can also feel pressure in the ear or a blockage from the hearing aid. Even eating food and chewing can sound uncomfortable and loud. It feels like the sound becomes trapped in your head.
If the occlusion effect becomes severe, some individuals might choose to remove the hearing aid and go without it.
Fortunately, IICs can reduce the occlusion effect and make the wearer more comfortable. The device sits deep inside the ear which results in less internal vibration and a decrease of sound distortion. And because IICs are short and small, they do not trap the low pitch sounds as easily as longer devices.
The Sound Is Natural
IIC wearers can experience more natural sound quality when compared to larger hearing aid devices. This is because IICs are small and do not need tubing and wires. Instead, they fit all the way into your ear canal without blocking any part of your ear.
This way, outside noise can sound more natural. This helps IIC wearers adjust easier to their devices.
Less Chance of Feedback
Many hearing aid wearers experience feedback, especially when on the phone.
Since IICs are closer to your inner ear than other devices, they need less power to amplify sounds. This results in less chance of experiencing feedback.
And because IICs require less power, they are also more efficient.
The Cons of Invisible Hearing Aids
Now let’s take a look at the disadvantages of invisible hearing aids.
Frequent Maintenance Required
Because invisible hearing aids fit inside your ear, they are susceptible to wax build up and must be frequently maintained.
Wax buildup can damage hearing aids if it gets into the speaker or microphone part. This means you have to remove and clean them daily.
You should establish a daily cleaning habit and work it into your routine as you do with brushing your teeth.
You should wipe your hearing aids clean with a dry, clean cloth. Do not wipe with tissues, especially ones with added lotion and fragrance. The residue could build up on your hearing devices. You shouldn’t wipe with paper at all since pieces can break off and ruin your hearing aids.
Too Small to Support Directionality
Directionality helps you focus the sound you are hearing while decreasing other background noises. For example, at the dinner table, directionality can help you hear the person in front of you better while reducing the noise of the people behind you or to your side.
Larger hearing aids can have more than one microphone which supports directionality. However, IICs are too tiny for more than one microphone.
This is one of the biggest disadvantages when it comes to invisible hearing aids.
Another disadvantage of the small size of invisible hearing aids is smaller batteries. Because the batteries are smaller, you will need to replace them more frequently than larger hearing devices. You’ll end up spending more money on batteries.
They May Not Fit in Your Ear
Unfortunately, not everyone can wear invisible hearing aids. Some individuals have ears that are too short or small.
If your ear canal is too narrow or small, then you can’t properly place the hearing aid inside. Or you may be able to place it in your ear, but it may not be completely invisible.
Also, because invisible hearing aids are so small, those with dexterity or problems seeing may not be able to properly place the device in their ear canal.
Only for Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss
Those who benefit the most from invisible hearing aids have mild or moderate hearing loss.
Because of their small size, these types of hearing aids do not have enough power to amplify sound for those with severe hearing loss.
Are Invisible Hearing Aids Right for Me?
If you have mild or moderate hearing loss and you want a hearing aid that is discreet, then invisible hearing aids may be the right choice for you.
However, if you have severe hearing loss and need a powerful device, then you may require a larger hearing aid.
Another thing to think about is the maintenance. An invisible hearing aid will require a lot of maintenance, so prepare to take care of it and clean it daily.
What Additional Information Should I Know Before Buying a Hearing Aid?
Before selecting and buying a hearing aid, speak with your audiologist about which is the best choice for you. If you currently don’t have an audiologist, you can ask your doctor for a referral.
Before choosing a hearing aid, you should ask yourself which features are the most important to you. You should also consider the cost and how much you are willing to spend.
Hearing aids are not cheap. The price can range from $1000 to $4000 or more depending on the type of device and the features it has.
You can also see if it’s possible to do a trial period with a new hearing aid. Many manufacturers offer a 30 to 60-day trial window where you can return hearing aids if you’re unsatisfied with them. You should also check how long the warranty is and what it covers.
If you’ve never worn hearing aids before, note that it takes time to adjust to hearing aids.
You need to learn the features of a new hearing aid. You also need to learn how to place it in your ear and take it out. Your audiologist can also show you how to clean it and change the batteries.
One last thing to remember: hearing aids are not a magic cure for hearing loss. You can’t restore your hearing to how it was. You can, however, improve your hearing with these devices.
Invisible Hearing Aids Can Help
If you suffer from hearing loss and are looking for a solution, invisible hearing aids can help. They can help you gain confidence and strengthen your hearing.
Want to learn more about hearing aid tips and advice? Check out our resources.