Small hearing aid design battles stigma


Contributed by Brande Plotnick, MS, MBA

The hearing aid industry isn’t the first to use our insecurities to market to us. For evidence that our perceived shortcomings sell products, look no further than the very successful diet and fitness industry. Whether you think you’re too flabby, scrawny or overweight, there’s a diet or workout for that. If you’ve been putting off getting hearing aids because you remember the clunky devices of years ago, it’s time to give today’s discreet hearing aid technology a second look.

discreet hearing aid design
Today’s discreet hearing aid designs keep

hearing loss your little secret.

Manufacturers have been working diligently to combat the unfortunate negative stigma of hearing aids, and the most common way is to create small hearing aids that can’t be seen. These small and discreet hearing aids all but disappear once placed in the ear. If discretion tops your priority list, explore these inconspicuous styles

Completely in the canal (CIC) styles

CICs are custom-made using ear impressions your hearing healthcare professional creates in their clinic. The impressions are sent to the hearing aid manufacturer where the shell is precision crafted to fit your unique ear canal. With a proper fit, CICs nestle deep into the ear canal and out of view to the casual observer.

CICs spend the day in the depths of your ear canals. Because the electronic components of the hearing aids are close to the moist, warm, wax-filled environment of your ear canal, diligent daily cleaning and routine maintenance as recommended by your hearing care professional is essential.

As with other custom hearing aids, perfect fit is crucial to comfort and success with CICs. A shell that is too small with tiny gaps can result in feedback whistling while a fit that is too large in the wrong places can cause pain with extended wear. Your hearing care professional is skilled in taking accurate ear impressions and, in the event the fit isn’t right, can work with you to perfect it.

While not everyone’s hearing loss is suited to small hearing aids, today’s CICs deliver high quality sound, automated convenience and a low profile.

Receiver in the ear (RITE) styles

With RITE hearing aids, also called receiver in the canal (RIC) hearing aids, the speaker, or receiver, is placed inside your ear canal rather than inside the hearing aid itself. This allows the device to be smaller while still providing enough power to accommodate up to severe hearing losses. The hearing aid itself sits snugly behind the ear and is coupled to the receiver by an ultra-thin, transparent and often invisible tube.

RITE and RIC styles have surged in popularity over the past ten years, and for good reasons. They are extremely comfortable. Thanks to the miniaturization of technology, the devices themselves keep getting smaller and more lightweight and, to blend with most any skin or hair color, are available in a wide range of attractive colors that fade away from view once placed. The acoustics of RITE and RIC instruments are perfect for common high-frequency hearing losses and provide arguably the most natural sound quality of any hearing aid style. 

All your friends and family will notice is that you’re suddenly hearing much better. 

Hearing healthcare professionals sometimes have inventory of the RITE and RIC devices, tubes and receivers in their offices so demonstrating them is much easier compared to CICs. If you try an in-office demonstration and are pleased with the results, you may even be able to walk out of the clinic with your new hearing aids that very day! 

Discreet control and connectivity

Keeping your hearing loss under wraps requires more than just inconspicuous hearing aids. If you’ve ever noticed a hearing aid wearer fiddling with volume controls or program buttons, you know how that can draw unwanted attention. Fortunately, hearing aid manufacturers have designed clever ways to discreetly control most every aspect of the listening experience. 

Instead of noticeably reaching up to your ear to turn up your hearing aids during an important meeting, it may be possible to discreetly make that change with a small remote control that easily fits in a pocket or handbag. Some remote controls resemble fine writing instruments or your car’s key fob. Most likely, your new hearing devices may be controlled right from your smartphone with easily downloadable apps. Since most everyone is engaged with a smartphone these days, no one will guess that yours is the control center for your hearing aids. 

It’s no secret…

…more than 80 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids never make the leap and get them. The reasons why are complicated; while hearing aids can be a major financial investment, the negative stigma is probably why even those who could afford the best instruments go without.

Some fear a hearing loss will make them look old or not as sharp as they used to be. In reality, asking others to repeat themselves and missing life’s important sounds can be more embarrassing than wearing well-designed hearing devices. If discretion and cosmetic appearance is important to you, there are more options to suit you than ever before! Find a hearing care professional near you and make the call. All your friends and family will notice is that you’re suddenly hearing much better. 


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