When you find out that you need a hearing aid, one of your first concerns might be its visibility to others; a study has found that making a hearing aid virtually invisible increases the likelihood of someone purchasing one by 30 – 40 percent. If you find yourself leaning towards a less visible option, Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) hearing aids are discreet and ideal choice.
What Are CIC Hearing Aids?
As the name suggests, CIC hearing aids sit completely within your ear canal, making them very small and discreet devices. Unless someone looks directly right inside your ear, it won’t be visible to passers-by.
CICs are custom-fit because they are made from a mold that is taken from your ear canal. This means you’ll find them comfortable and they won’t move around inside your ear.
How do they work? Sounds are funneled down towards your ear canal. The CIC hearing aid processes and amplifies them to be sent down your ear canal to your eardrum.
CICs are a little different from Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC) hearing aids which rest in the second bend of the ear canal and can barely be seen at all, even if you’re looking right into the ear.
Are CIC Hearing Aids Any Good?
Anecdotal reports on CICs show them to be generally very well-liked by users for a number of reasons.
For one, they’re almost invisible (which many people normally see as their key benefit). This might be particularly important to you if you’re young or feeling a little embarrassed about being seen wearing a hearing aid.
Second to this is the fact that CICs have an excellent comfort level. As CIC hearing aids are small and custom made, they should sit very naturally in your ear and not feel too burdensome.
CICs are also acknowledged as effective hearing aids that provide you with a rather natural sound experience. This is because nothing is obstructing your outer ear, so sounds can still be collected here before moving towards the receiver and have some natural interaction with the eardrum.
You’ll also be able to hear where sounds are coming from for this same reason — the hearing aid sits far down your ear canal, leaving the outer ear unhindered in its vital functioning. CIC users often have no issues detecting sound directionality.
Due to the CIC’s small size, there is no bulky device blocking the use of your phone and you can talk naturally without having to maneuver around your device. This also means that you can wear headgear such as over-the-ear headphones and helmets as you normally would. This makes it easy to still take part in all your favorite hobbies.
Finally, the CIC’s positioning also means that in comparison to other hearing aid types, you’ll experience much less noise disruption from the wind.
Disadvantages to CIC Hearing Aids
All this being said, there are some notable disadvantages to CIC hearing aids.
The CIC’s small size limits its features and power. This means that if you have severe or profound hearing loss, the CIC can’t accommodate the number of processors and the size of amplifiers needed to give you a high-powered hearing aid.
Also because of their size, you’ll find that CIC’s use incredibly small batteries that you’ll need to change often. Critically, this also means that they are only powerful enough to include basic technological features, reducing the number of useful functions that might be included in your device.
As CICs sit within your ear canal, manufacturers can’t place controls on the aid itself. This means you need to make adjustments through an external controller such as a remote control or dedicated app on your smartphone. While some prefer to adjust their hearing aid through a remote or smartphone, others prefer having a control on the casing itself.
It should be acknowledged that the CIC’s positioning within the ear canal means that natural moisture from within the ear and potential earwax buildup can damage the hearing aid. This increased vulnerability means that CIC require slightly more care than larger, outside the ear models.
By filling the ear canal (and being too small to include a vent) CIC hearing aids can cause occlusion in the ear. This is characterized by the feeling of your own voice seeming very loud or that your ear is blocked.
If you were born with an ear abnormality or your ear has an unusually shaped ear canal a CIC might not fit you. If this is the case you will need to choose another option.
As a custom made design and micro-components are key to CICs, you might find them to be a more expensive option.
Lastly, these hearing aids can challenge your dexterity (and present problems if you’re visually impaired) due to their tiny size. Fiddly actions you’ll need to carry out include changing the batteries, device insertion and removal, and cleaning, so if you’re worried about this chat to your audiologist about its suitability for you.
Other Types of Hearing Aids
Different hearing aids are more appropriate for some users with specific needs and lifestyles, so be sure to check out all your options before making a financial commitment. Your audiologist will be the best authority on what will be a good device for you, so make sure you take advantage of their years of expertise.
Other hearing aid types include Behind-the-Ear (BTE), Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE), In-the-Ear (ITE), In-the-Canal (ITC), CROS/BiCROS, and body-worn hearing aids.
If you have any further questions, again, check out our many articles or ask your audiologist or physician.
The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources: