Are small hearing aids any good?
You have been diagnosed with hearing loss and your audiologist recommends you wear hearing aids. Social pressure urges some to choose the small and invisible ones. However, not all models and styles are appropriate for all people. Which one should you pick? How will you know if it’s good for you?
There are many modern types of hearing aids. Each has its own features from color, size and location in the ear. The most chosen one lately is the most discreet, one that is almost invisible to the eye. Your hearing care professional will present to you all the options available about hearing aids based on your needs.
Below we review what small hearing aids are, what options are available, the pros and cons of small hearing aids and what you should consider as a consumer before buying the right one.
What are small hearing aids?
Small hearing aids or invisible ones are designed to be as small and unnoticeable as possible.
They are invisible to the naked eye. They are custom fitted to the ear canal and they are known for their distinctive and advanced digital technology that fits into such a tiny device.
They are smaller and smarter than before, allowing the wearers to hear all the sounds around them. Even though they are small and cannot be detected, you will definitely notice the difference.
They comprise of three parts: a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker.
Small hearing aids are not suitable for patients with severe and more advanced hearing loss. They are best used for mild to moderate hearing loss.
Small hearing aid categories
Small hearing aids are classified into different categories. There are:
They are put directly in the ear canal.
They contain a hard plastic case holding the electronics inside the external part of the ear.
They are the largest.
They work using two microphones, offering excellent sound capabilities.
They can be a great option when listening to music.
The shell of it is custom-made to suit and fit the shape of the ear.
They come sometimes in different colors to match the skin or hair tones.
They can still be seen when looking closely but are less visible than the traditional hearing aids.
They are generally used or recommended for patients with mild to moderate hearing loss.
They are unsuitable for young children because the molds require replacing as the ear grows.
They are put into the canal.
They are completely hidden and are not visible when wearing them.
They are suggested for patients with mild to moderate or severe hearing loss.
They localize sound by using the ear’s natural shape.
They are very lightweight.
They require more cleaning than other models due to the exposure to moisture and earwax in the ear canal.
You can sense a plugged-up feeling because they rest deeply in the ear canal.
People with fine-motor difficulties like arthritis, muscle fatigue or trembling might find it harder to handle it.
IIC (invisible -in-the-canal)
They are the most discreet in the hearing aid styles.
They are the smallest hearing aids.
They are designed in a way to be completely invisible when worn.
They fit deep inside the ear canal in a tiny case and are visible only when someone is looking directly into the ear.
You can remove them by pulling a small string.
They adapt automatically to the sound in the environment.
They are not appropriate for children and adolescents while they are growing up
Why choosing small and discreet hearing aids?
Hearing aids are from the best solutions to hearing loss nowadays. When wearing hearing aids, you need to be comfortable wearing them and confident of yourself at the same time. How hearing aids look is one of the most important factors that wearers search for when choosing. They prefer something that is aesthetically attractive and not too big.
Several factors can and should be considered when choosing the right hearing aid:
The level of hearing loss that is degrees of hearing loss and how severe it is
The patient’s personal preferences and lifestyle
The patient’s ability to manage small devices
The cost (hearing aid devices vary greatly in price, they range from hundreds to thousands of dollars)
Appearance plays a major role when picking up the hearing aid. How users think they look to others affects their choice. They might be worried people will refer to them as old people or treat them differently. That is why they go to the almost invisible type of hearing aid which cannot be seen by other people.
Advantages of small hearing aids
They are small and discreet. They are so close to being invisible. This is an option to those who are concerned about showing others that they have hearing loss.
There aren’t any external tubes or wires running from the hearing aids to the ear.
They are comfortable because they are lightweight and made to fit inside the ear canal. They are custom molded to the ear canal. Opposite to the traditional hearing aids, they don’t contain visible parts that might rub against the skin or get caught in the hair.
Since they are inside the ear, it is easier for the wearers to use their headsets and telephones.
The outer ear hides it. This helps in avoiding wind noise when enjoying outdoor activities.
They provide more natural sounds and good sound quality because they are closer to the ear drum.
They don’t produce feedback such as whistling due to their position near the eardrum. They don’t need much power to transmit sound, so they do not pick up outside noise. They don’t produce loud sounds.
Wearers can use over the ear headphones without having to connect to Bluetooth.
Disadvantages of small hearing aids
They don’t work for all types of hearing loss. They are best suitable for mild to moderate hearing losses. For people with severe hearing loss, more powerful behind-the-ear styles work better.
They don’t fit in all ear canals. Some people have short or differently shaped ear canals. This makes it hard for them to wear the small types. They will hurt their ears and cause them irritation. For example, those with short or thin ear canals cannot use ITE hearing aids because it might not sit comfortably in the ear.
Changing batteries happen more often. The batteries don’t hold power for long and they can be tricky to replace. That is why they are not recommended for those with vision or dexterity problems. They are not available with rechargeable batteries. This adds on you more maintenance costs.
The features could be limited. Small hearing aids have less features. One of them is using directional microphones. You don’t have the luxury of changing much in the profile settings. Having room for one microphone can affect hearing in noisy environments.
The controls could be harder to feel and see. Due to their small size, they don’t have manual controls like program buttons.
There is a higher risk to lose or misplace.
BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aid styles provide Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls, TV, and streaming radio. When choosing the small type, you might miss out on this feature with most IIC or ITE hearing aids.
Wearing them in wet, hot or oily (ear wax) conditions make them more prone to repairs, unlike the other styles of hearing aids. This means staying without them every time while they are being repaired.
They require constant cleaning and maintenance.
All hearing aids have their advantages and their disadvantages. This information might sound overwhelming at first, but don’t worry. You don’t have to take the decision all by yourself. Everything you discuss with your audiologist will help you choose the best quality hearing aids that are best suited for your hearing loss type and its severity.
Adjusting to a new hearing aid is a big investment and takes time, so think of all your options along with the right professional intervention.