Completely in the canal hearing aids (also known as CIC hearing aids) are, as the name suggests, hearing aids which fit entirely within the wearers ear canal. These revolutionary devices are the smallest hearing aids on the market and are invisible to the average observer who doesn’t know they are there. Most major hearing aid brands and manufacturers now offer this inconspicuous alternative to traditional behind the ear, or BTE, hearing aids.
CIC hearing aids are custom made to fit deep inside the individual wearers ear canal and are said to mimic the natural auditory process more closely then any other style of hearing aid. They are best suited to people with a mild to moderate hearing loss. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into consideration when deciding between CIC hearing aids and the BTE models.
For audiologists, otologists, speech therapists and other hearing professionals, the primary appeal of CIC hearing aids are their acoustic advantages. They are able to closely simulate environmental, and more importantly, speech sounds, patterns, nuances etc. This is imperative to a hearing impaired individual’s competency with the spoken word. Additionally, since CIC hearing aids are worn closer to the eardrum then their BTE counterparts, their microphones are better able to amplify and therefore give a boost to any residual hearing the wearer may have. The advantage that is most often touted by the wearers of CIC devices, however, is their cosmetic appeal and inconspicuousness.
Conversely, it is important to keep in mind that CIC hearing aids also have some drawbacks. If financial constraints are a part of the picture, it should be noted that completely in the canal hearing aids are somewhat more expensive to purchase then behind the ear hearing aids are. Another issue that may make them cost prohibitive to those on a tight budget is that increased susceptibility to ear wax build up puts CIC hearing aids at higher risk for damage, therefore necessitating pricey repair bills or replacement hearing aids.
Whereas BTE hearing instruments are appropriate for almost all hearing impaired individuals regardless of the type or degree of hearing loss, CIC hearing aids are not recommended for individuals with certain kinds of hearing loss. They are also unlikely to be prescribed or advised for children. First of all children tend to be less able to tolerate the discomfort and irritations that sometimes come along with the use of CIC models, especially in the beginning.
Plus children’s ear canals aren’t done growing, so they will need to be refitted and replaced much more often for them then for adults. The size of CIC hearing aids and their even tinier batteries make them difficult to manipulate for the elderly, arthritis sufferers and others with conditions and diseases which effect fine motor control. Feedback and no volume control are two more drawbacks often mentioned by CIC hearing aid users.
Audiologists are the best resource hearing impaired individuals have to help them objectively decide whether CIC or BTE hearing aids are better for them. They can also point wearers in the direction of the best CIC hearing aids provider. Research on the pros and cons can also be done at the library or on the internet.