Invisible Hearing Aids
Hearing loss can be a condition which severely affects the daily life of the sufferer to the extent that it limits his or her communication. Worse yet, some people are too embarrassed about their hearing loss to wear hearing aids if they can be easily seen. In fact, it is not uncommon for individuals suffering from hearing loss to simply ignore it rather than have to live with hearing aids. This is not a good situation, nor does it need to occur with today's advanced hearing aid technology. Just like everything else in the world of electronics, many of today's hearing aids are now so small that they are barely visible at all.
In the modern era many people find hearing aid devices uncomfortable, cumbersome, and aesthetically unattractive. For those kinds of people there are now invisible hearing aids on the market. Invisible hearing aids take some of the pressure off those who are embarrassed about their hearing loss. They are also more comfortable in many cases as well. Yet due to their relative newness on the market, they are not yet used extensively as more traditional models.
If you don't mind what hearing aids look like, you're a perfect candidate for a standard in-the-ear model that sits at the entrance of the ear canal. But if you're sensitive about those things, and embarrassed about what this kind of hearing aid looks like, there are other types available. Typically called "invisible" or "nearly invisible" hearing aids, you have several options to choose from including:
CIC hearing aids are the only ones that really live up to the designation of being invisible. They consist of a tiny unit that fits deep inside the ear canal and generally cannot be seen by the naked eye. The only portion of the hearing aid that protrudes from the ear is a small removal string which is made of transparent material so it can barely be seen as well. Because of the size and nature of these types of hearing aids, they are only appropriate for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
The latest CIC models have been developed to be what's considered "extended wear." These types of CIC hearing aids are worn at all times - even when sleeping, playing sports, and showering. With the exception of swimming, users keep these hearing aids in their ears until the batteries wear out, which can be up to six months in some cases. CIC hearing aids should not be used by individuals with a propensity to ear infections or those suffering from diabetes.
The CIC hearing aid gets its name from the fact that it sits entirely inside the ear canal. This is in contrast to behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids which are hooked over the ear with the "hearing" device lying flat against the head behind the ear. They are also substantially different from in-the-ear (ITE) models which fit snugly into the opening of the ear canal but can still be fully seen. CIC hearing aids get inserted deeply into the ear canal and come very close to reaching the eardrum itself.
CIC hearing aids are for those suffering from moderate to severe hearing loss diagnosed as sensorineural. One of the greatest benefits is that their snug fit manages to keep out ambient noise that can sometimes impair the hearing of the user. They also seem to do a better job of helping individuals distinguish different voices during conversations, as well as pick out other individual sounds occurring in a room. These two difficulties are among the chief complaints of those suffering from sensorineural hearing loss. Having a CIC hearing aid that solves these problems is a big plus.
The only thing to note about CIC hearing aids is that they aren't truly invisible if you know what you're looking for. In other words, if you look closely into the ear of the wearer, you would see a small piece of filament protruding from the ear canal. This filament is necessary to remove the hearing aid from the canal. Fortunately, the filament is usually transparent or dyed a color that closely matches the natural skin tone of the wearer. You won't see it unless you are specifically looking for it. As for the hearing aid itself, it's deep enough in the ear canal that you won't know it's there.
BTE hearing aids are considered to be "nearly invisible" because of their design. With these types of hearing aids the main unit is fitted behind the ear and is connected to a receiver, placed just inside the ear canal, with a clear plastic tube. Depending on the shape of the ear and the length of the hair, it's possible to completely hide the external unit so it will never be seen. Some manufacturers even offer to color the external unit so it matches the skin color and the natural colors of the hair. The unit inside the ear canal can barely be seen unless you are purposely looking for it.
This type of hearing aid is designed for those with moderate to severe hearing loss. This is because as the receiver fits inside the outer ear canal it also can be used as a powered hearing device for extra amplification. There is less risk of ear infections with these units and they are taken out at night while you're sleeping. BTE units are a good compromise between cost, invisibility, and ear comfort.
The RIE hearing aid is similar to the BTE hearing aid except that the receiver is inserted deep into the inner ear canal. The purpose behind this is to provide ample hearing enhancement for someone with severe hearing loss. Again, the exterior unit fits snugly behind the ear and can be covered discretely using the back of the ear and the hair. The same risks are present with the RIE as with the BTE, including ear infections and skin irritation. In such cases the receiver can be removed for a couple of days to allow the ear canal to recover.
Getting Started with Invisible Hearing Aids
Thanks to advancements in modern technology it's now possible to use hearing aids that cannot be easily seen by others. If sensitivity to such things is something that bothers you, you still can get your hearing back by purchasing one of these types of hearing aids. If you're interested in doing so, the first thing you'll need to do is see your audiologist so that your hearing can be tested.
Once your audiologist knows the specific types of sounds you are unable to hear, he can then recommend the best hearing aids for your particular condition. Your ears will be measured in order to custom fit your hearing aid and you'll be on your way as soon as they arrive. Keep in mind there will be a time of adjustment necessary in order to get your hearing aids working to their maximum potential. You also may need periodic adjustments as time goes by.