What are Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids?

hearing aids being placed in a model ear

Hearing technology has been advancing at a rapid rate in recent years. The days of large, bulky hearing aids are long gone and small, customizable hearing aids are the norm. Hearing aids of today can be delicately fine-tuned by audiologists to suit the individuals' needs. It’s now possible to have hearing aids that are Bluetooth connected, have media streaming features and can communicate with the internet. Modern technological advances have created a vast range of products for people experiencing hearing loss, which is only set to continue.  

What are ICC hearing aids?

ICC hearing aids are very small, discrete devices that are almost – if not entirely – invisible. The only part that can be visible is a small wire that is attached to the aid, which you hold on to take the device in or out. ICC devices are similar to completely-in-canal hearing aids, ICC hearing aids are just slightly smaller and sit further down in the ear canal.

The benefits of ICC hearing aids 

Perhaps the main reason why people experiencing hearing loss choose ICC hearing aids is that it is often completely invisible to others. These discrete devices are custom-made to fit the shape of everyone’s ear, often using an earmold that an audiologist will make from your ear. 

Another benefit to ICC hearing aids is that because they are positioned deep within the ear, they often pick up less wind noise. Depending on the day-to-day activities of the hearing aid, this can make a significant difference. 

ICC hearing aids produce a very clear, natural sound for the wearer. This is because its small size does not obstruct the rest of the ear’s natural functions, meaning it receives sounds and amplifies them towards the eardrum. Similarly, an ICC hearing aid also enables wearers to detect which direction sounds are coming from. The ICC’s position inside the ear allows the outer ear to effectively direct the sounds down to the wearer’s ear canal. 

Perhaps the most pertinent benefit of ICC hearing aids is that they are comfortable to wear and do not hinder the wearer in any way. ICCs are fully customized, molded to the wearer’s ear and rest against a bone that ensures it doesn’t move around inside the ear. Wearers of ICC hearing aids often report that they are unable to feel the aid when it’s in position. Furthermore, they are so small that users can wear helmets, headphones, and telephones as if they weren’t wearing a hearing aid. 

Disadvantages of ICC hearing aids 

The size of ICC hearing aids is a blessing and a curse. While they’re fantastic for many reasons, wearers who have dexterity issues may find inserting and removing the device difficult. Another problem that ICC wearers may encounter is the battery life. While it is not bad, ICC hearing aids battery spans are shorter than typical batteries. 

Due to the position of the ICC hearing aid in an ear canal, it can require more maintenance. This is to ensure its functioning optimally, and because it can be more susceptible to damage due to ear wax or moisture.  

Finally, not all those who experience hearing loss are able to use an ICC hearing aid because their ear anatomy may not be compatible with the device. Ear canals are required to be a specific shape and size to fit the device safely and securely. 

Who can use ICC hearing aids? 

ICC hearing aids are ideal for individuals who have mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Due to their small size, these devices are not appropriate for those with more severe hearing loss. This is because they have less powerful processors and amplifiers than larger hearing aids. ICC hearing aids are perfect for those who live active lifestyles or who want a discrete device that no one else will be able to notice. 

There are several reasons why people who are experiencing hearing loss choose ICC hearing aids is also the reason why they are often just called invisible hearing aids – they’re almost always undetectable. They allow the wearer to live a life akin to someone without hearing loss. While there may be some drawbacks – battery spans last slightly less long and they can be fiddly for some to put it and remove - they are a very popular option. 

To learn more about invisible-in-canal hearing aids, reach out to Pacific Audiology Clinic at 503-719-4208.