If you have to hold the morning paper at arm's length to read the headline, you'd probably get your eyes examined and get yourself some reading glasses. No problem, right?
Sure, we all use "adaptive" devices to improve our quality of life, but for some reason, many people still feel a stigma associated with hearing loss and wearing hearing aids. Thus many consumers are in search of invisible hearing aids or the smallest hearing aids they can get their hands on.
We get it. You're still totally in the game; you just don't want to tell the world that you've got hearing loss. Complete discretion. So what are your options when it comes to invisible hearing aids?
Invisible Hearing Aids
|Oticon Agil hearing aids offer invisible solution with open ear and RIC BTE styles|
If, indeed, a low profile tops your "must-have" list, you've got lots of options. With a new focus on design, today's hearing aid manufacturers deliver hearing aids that are smaller, more discrete and, in some cases, completely invisible.
In fact, all digital hearing aids today are compact and understated, though it's important to discuss options with a hearing professional – an audiologist or hearing aid specialist. It's also important to have a top-down hearing evaluation to determine the type of hearing loss and the extent of hearing loss you experience as this will affect the style and size of hearing aid you should wear.
After you've been evaluated, your hearing professional will discuss options and this is where you can talk about your top priority – invisibility. There are different types of hearing aids, each offering a low profile that doesn't make a statement to the world and keeps your confidence and self-esteem at normal levels.
The first type of hearing aid is called a CIC – completely in the canal. These small custom-made hearing aids slip unobtrusively into the ear canal, invisible to all with the exception of a small plastic removal string that in itself is difficult to see. The CIC is an option for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
CICs are invisible but they also have some characteristics worth consideration. CICs block out all natural sound, meaning they completely block the ear canal so the hearing aid must process and amplify all sounds. Some wearers complain of a stuffy feeling and a difference in the sound of their own voices.
CICs aren't recommended for people who produce a lot of ear wax, a natural substance produced by glands that line the ear canal. Since CIC's sit so deep in the ear canal, ear wax can gum up the inside parts of the CIC and cause damage. And due to the small size of these devices, they aren't recommended for those with dexterity problems.
Another type of invisible hearing aid is called an open ear BTE – behind the ear hearing aids. These are small, discrete and are almost invisible. Open ear BTE hearing aids are small in size and rest behind the outer ear lobe with a small thin tube running down into the ear canal. They're small, discrete, and lightweight and deliver wearing comfort all day long.
BTEs are barely visible and, depending on the length of your hair, can be made even more discrete. In fact, manufacturers offer BTE casings to match your hair or skin color, adding another cloak of invisibility.
There are two types of open fitting BTEs: RIC (Receiver-in-the-Canal) and mini BTEs with slim tubes. Both types allow the ear canal to remain open – allowing natural sound to pass through the ear in addition to the sound the hearing aids are amplifying. Hearing aid users report a more natural fit, feel and sound to these devices.
RICs are slightly different in that the speaker of the hearing aids sits within the ear canal, thus delivering more power for those with moderate to severe hearing loss. Open ear mini BTEs with slim tube are ideal for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Choose Hearing Aids that Fit Your Lifestyle
So, you have lots of options when it comes to invisible hearing aids, though some may be better than others depending upon your hearing loss and physical attributes of your ear. Discuss your preferences, priorities and lifestyle with your hearing professional and develop a list of pros and cons according to what's important to you.
For example, if automated convenience is a top priority, you'd probably be better off with a discrete, color-coordinated BTE. Because of its larger casing, designers can fit more automated features into a BTE than in a CIC.
If natural sound is key, then hearing aids with "open ear" technology will deliver the results you're looking for.
You'll find the low-profile, discrete appearance you're looking for in hearing aids regardless of what type your choose. Make sure your hearing authority goes over all the options with you and remember most hearing aid purchases come with a trial period of at least 30 days. Use these 30 days wisely by wearing the hearing aids as much as possible to ensure the fit will satisfy you for years to come.
The last thing you want is an uncomfortable, unnatural solution to hearing loss. You'll be wearing your hearing aids all day, every day.
Visit your local hearing professional or hearing aid center for an evaluation and a consultation. Then pick the right hearing aid to suit you and enjoy all the sounds you've been missing.