Hello all, Helen here from Digital Hearing Care. At the moment when we receive enquiries via our website for people enquiring about addressing their hearing loss, or perhaps looking to upgrade their existing hearing aids, the two most common words we hear at the moment are ‘invisible’ and ‘rechargeable’.
‘Invisible’ seems to be the word that crops up more for people new to hearing aids, and ‘rechargeable’ seems to be mentioned more with enquiries from existing hearing aid wearers. My next post in about a week will cover the area of rechargeable hearing aids, and this post as below will cover some aspects of invisible hearing aids.
When it comes to the supply of invisible hearing aids there are factors we need to consider when you ask for our advice as hearing professionals. Whether invisible hearing aids are suitable and appropriate for you as an individual depends on factors including your type and level of hearing loss, the features you are looking for, and the price range you can consider (also what you feel is an appropriate amount of money to spend too of course!).
As we are independent hearing aid suppliers at Digital Hearing Care we have full access to the whole of the hearing aid market (unlike for instance all the high street retailers – they have limited ranges). Several of the manufacturers we deal with offer the most discreet invisible or IIC (Invisible in the canal) style.
Phonak provide the most powerful IIC hearing aid which is manufactured in the material titanium – and goes by the name Phonak Virto B Titanium IIC. Because of the shell material which is very thin and strong in comparison to the more traditional acrylic shell, and some innovative new design features the Phonak Titanium IIC can be made very small. It has plenty of room for a more powerful receiver (to provide extra amplification where needed) and more venting if required (to overcome the potential feeling of occlusion – feeling blocked up) . My Phonak Titanium blog post
Some of the features found in current hearing aid technology are not available in the IIC form factor because of the compromise needed to be made between cosmetics and function – basically with an IIC you may need to sacrifice certain aspects of the technology you might want to take advantage of otherwise, to be able to wear the most discreet of IIC hearing aids.
If you are considering this type of hearing aid you might want to weigh up which is more of a priority for you – function or cosmetics. For example directional microphones (which can be helpful in combating background noise) and many wireless features are not generally available in IIC hearing aids, with the exception of another of our favourite IIC models from Oticon.
Oticon have a great reputation for making small and well built hearing aids, and they regularly supply IIC’s with wireless compatibility, something that the other manufacturers at this point can’t seem to manage.
It is of course dependent on the size and shape of the ear canal, the Oticon IIC can have wireless chip as long as ear size/shape allows. This is a great plus if you ear will accommodate the Oticon IIC wireless chip, it means that some of the wireless benefits found in the rest of the Oticon hearing aid range will still be available in this discreet product.
Even Oticon though can’t use directional microphone technology with an IIC, there’s too little room and the IIC sits too deep in the ear canal for that to be possible.
Compensating for that to a degree (but not entirely) a deep fitting hearing aid regains some of the natural directionality of the ear due to its deep position in the ear canal.
When it comes to invisible IIC hearing aids the Phonak Titanium and the Oticon IIC are our ‘go to’ models, but all the manufacturers have their own versions of the invisible hearing aid, including Widex, Starkey, Siemens, Resound and Unitron, although with time we have gravitated towards the two models above as the best of the bunch.
I have my own favourites that I am most impressed with, but we can supply anything you like the look of subject to it’s suitability.
I would like to point out that invisible IIC hearing aids are not suitable for everybody, if you have dexterity issues an IIC will probably not be for you. If you have waxy or very moist canals, or very small, narrow or ‘bendy’ ear canals (lack of space) this may rule out this type of IIC hearing aid.
If you are interested in this type of hearing aid you will of course need a full hearing examination to assess suitability. That’s a full hearing test, an inspection of your ear canal and impressions of your ears to see how much space is available for such a tiny device.
Once we have been through that process we can offer you a solid opinion.