What are Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids?
Invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids are the smallest custom hearing aids that are available. This kind of hearing aid is designed and sculpted to fit entirely insides your ear canal. This makes them almost invisible to those around you. IIC hearing aids usually have extraction cords fitted to help you to insert and remove them from your ear comfortably. A deep fitting IIC hearing aid can really reduce the sensation of occlusion, such as hearing your own voice louder in your head, which can sometimes occur when an IIC hearing aid fits in the outer portion of your ear canal.
One of the big advantages is the small size and almost invisible appearance of the hearing aid. This makes them a very discreet option if you would rather not advertise the fact that you’re wearing a hearing aid.
The location of the microphone in the ear canal, as opposed to behind the ear, can help with using the telephone and the preservation of the natural acoustics provided by the external ear. This helps with the localization of the direction of sound from in front of and behind you.
There are a few limitations to the IIC style of hearing aid. The small size is discreet, but this also means that the receiver in the device is smaller too, which can make the hearing aid less powerful than other types.
IICs have a single omni-directional microphone which is sensitive to sounds arriving from all around you. This can mean that they are not always the best to help you when you’re trying to hear certain noises if you’re in an area with a lot of background noise.
Not all ears are well suited to wearing an IIC. The ear anatomy needs to be the right shape and size to house all the electronic components inside the IIC. They also don’t come with the option of a telecoil, although some manufacturers are now offering wireless IIC hearing aids which are a little larger in the size than the classic options.
This model of hearing aid can require more maintenance than other styles. This makes them more susceptible to damage from a build-up of earwax getting inside the microphone port, which is located inside the ear canal.
IIC hearing aids have a small ventilation hole due to the small size offering limited space. This can increase the likelihood of sweat and other moisture causing issues inside the ear and the hearing of internal sounds also called occlusion.
The smaller surface area means that these hearing aids are more likely to feedback or whistle due to acoustic leakage. They can also work loose from your ear while you are talking or chewing, especially if your ear canal is straight or inclined.
Is an IIC right for you?
When you’re choosing a hearing aid, you should make sure you spend some time considering your needs. What specific type of hearing loss do you have? What kind of environments do you spend most of your time in? For example, if you usually spend a lot of time in loud environments with a lot of background noise like restaurants, sports events or live gigs, then you may be better off with a small hearing aid that has digital noise reduction to better minimize background sounds.
If you spend most of your time at home or in quieter places, you may get on better with a hearing device that has more advanced signal processing to increase the clarity of speech. Talk over your options with an audiologist to help you decide whether an IIC is right for you or whether you would be better suited to a different style of hearing aid.
Hearing loss can happen to anyone and can be caused by lots of different things, such as a sudden loud noise, medication or just getting older. Exposure to loud noises over the years, such as going to loud concerts or working in a very loud environment, can gradually cause your hearing to become damaged.
You may lose the ability to hear sounds at certain pitches or may find your hearing is less sensitive in general, especially in environments with a lot of background noise. If you notice your hearing is going, you should seek medical treatment in order to protect the rest of your hearing as best as you can. To learn more about gradual hearing loss and what can be done about it, call the Salyer Hearing Center today at Sylva: 828-586-7474, Franklin: 828-524-5599, Murphy: 828-835-1014.