Are you worried about others knowing you are wearing hearing aids? If so, today’s post about the latest Invisible Hearing Aids or Hidden Hearing Aids will help you.
I want to give you clear honest impartial advice on buying invisible hearing aids. Choosing the right hearing aids is a complex and this guide should help you understand your options.
For many new users of hearing aids the idea of invisible hearing aids is attractive. There is a sense that you will be thought of as old if others can see that you are wearing hearing aids. This is from a needless sense of embarrassment at having a hearing loss. How do you know if someone is wearing a hearing aid today or not? Its very hard to tell. What should matter is you are staying connected with the life you know and enjoy, not settle for less because of your hearing loss.
Terry has been putting off getting hearing aids, not because of price, but because he doesn’t want to feel old. He was sitting opposite me saying “I am aware I’m missing out on conversation and hate not being able to be confident hearing in meetings at work. It’s my own business and I’m in meetings so much of the time. I don’t want my peers to think I’m getting past it. And they would if they knew I wore hearing aids. I would sooner say, pardon all the time.”
However, crunch time has come and he is seeking information about his options. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these smaller hearing aids? He asks as “I believe every purchase has something for it and something against it”
Invisible or hidden hearing aids have been available for over 26 years. They were initially not that small, but smaller than we were used to. The technology to make the parts of the hearing aids smaller continues to evolve rapidly.
All invisible hearing aids come in a range of technology levels. My best advice is always to buy the best technology level you can afford. I fit my own parents with the best technology levels because I want them to have the best results possible.
Invisible hearing aids are traditionally a custom made devices where all the electronics sit in the shell that fits in your ear canal. We call them Complete In the Canal (CIC) or Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids.
There was a resurgence in popularity of these so called “invisible hearing aids” or IICs a few years ago. The hearing aid manufacturers had overcome some technical challenges that previously reduced the functionality of these small custom devices. They are a little more robust than before and still give you a discreet look.
All the major manufacturers have introduced a truly invisible in the canal hearing aid range. They fit deeply in the ear canal and the faceplate cannot be seen easily.
Invisible hearing aids are not suitable for everyone for several reasons. The most important one is the size and shape of your ear canal. If your ear canal is not the right shape or size, you are out of luck.
Sometimes being an all in one unit they can be easier to handle and to place in the ear canal.
Just Like the Receiver In the Canal hearing aids (RICs), the smaller behind the ear hearing aids, the receiver or speaker of invisible hearing aids are placed in the ear canal. They have better protection from wax and moisture than the receivers in the ear (RIC) aids.
Our ear canals are a hostile environment for electronic components. The message is that invisible hearing aids require you take good care of them, changing their wax guards when required and cleaning the microphones to reduce the chance of the hearing aid breaking down. At best, Wax or dirt can just block the receiver or sound outlet or the microphone at worst, it can make its way into the components and destroy them.
Wax and moisture are the main reason for hearing aid failure. The manufacturers do everything possible to protect the electronics. It is rare for anything other than the microphone or receiver to fail. The chip inside the invisible hearing aids has a very low failure rate.
Invisible hearing aids use the smaller batteries and this may cause problems if you are that dexterous. If you have difficulty handling the hearing aids or putting the batteries in, it can be frustrating. Obviously, the smaller battery size means less battery life for each battery.
Let’s look at the what’s available in invisible hearing aids from these 3 brands, Phonak, Starkey and Signia.
Phonak has 2 Invisible Hearing Aids Models.
Phonak have just introduced this new hearing aid as part of their latest platform the Virto Belong range.
What’s interesting is they have used titanium for the shell instead of the usual hard acrylic. This is the first time that titanium has been used in the manufacture of a custom hearing aid.
The material is exceptionally strong, which has allowed Phonak to make the shell much thinner than ever before with even more strength. This combined with new component design allows them to deliver an invisible hearing device that they say will fit 68% more ears than their previous Virto Venture Nano Invisible Hearing Aids.
The titanium hearing aid has three strength levels which allows it to cover more hearing losses than ever before. However, it is only available in top two technology levels.
I love the look of these hearing aids and so far been delighted with the look and design of the aids.
The Venture Nano has been around a few years, it is the invisible hearing aid option available on the Venture platform from Phonak. Phonak invisible hearing aids up to now, even their IIC nano version was not always as small as other manufacturers.
Starkey has consistently made the smallest invisible custom made hearing aids.
Starkey introduced the original SoundLens several years ago and updated it last year with the SoundLens Synergy making the device even smaller and they added a second wireless invisible hearing aid to the lineup. Starkey SoundLens Synergy is available in the top three levels of technology
Signia is currently introducing some innovative ideas including remote fine tuning capability.
The Insio is the most powerful invisible hearing aid. Siemens / Signia introduced the Insio Primax IIC last year as part of the Primax introduction. It is the most powerful invisible hearing aid available covering hearing losses well into the severe range which is unusual for an invisible hearing aid. It is only available in the top three levels of technology.
Insio Primax Silk – An Instant Fit Invisible Hearing Aid (almost)
Signia says Silk is the first completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid that’s both almost invisible and ready to wear. The devices are powered by Signia’s latest primax chipset and are designed to fit up to 80% of all ear canals. While the device is labelled a CIC, for some people it is actually an invisible hearing aid, an IIC. This is why I have included this model here.
The device is a modular type hearing aid that uses a flexible Click Sleeve to provide an immediate and comfortable fit. In essence, Silk allows the possibility that you can walk into the Audiology office, and walk out the same day with a new hearing aid without having to wait for a custom-built device.
The Click Sleeves are made of soft silicone and are available in six different types which allow the device to fit in most ear canals and to fit most hearing losses. With the right Click Sleeve in place the hearing aid sits deep in the canal making the device either invisible or almost invisible.
The Insio Pimax Silk is available in the top three levels of technology only. It will be interesting to see if the idea of instant fit with superior technology and remote fine tuning has come of age. The uptake on the devices by both professionals and more importantly by people like you will be interesting.
“As you can see Terry, there are a few considerations for you to consider,” I said. “To make the final decision, your hearing test results, the shape and size of your ear canals, how much wax you produce and of course your budget will determine your final choice.
I like all the hearing aids above for different reasons. What are your thoughts on invisible hearing aids? And which one stands out for you?
If you want to explore this topic further I recommend this site for providing independent advice on hearing aids.
If you require further information or would like to see if invisible hearing aids are suitable for you, you are welcome to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 07 3366 5012.
Nolene Nielson is an experienced Australian Audiologist who is passionate about hearing. This article was first published at hearingcareprofessionals.com.au.