various hearing-aid styles in palm of hand, showing how small Eargo hearing aids are when compared to other styles
HEARING AIDS

Small Hearing Aids: Discreet and Virtually Invisible Hearing Aids

BY EARGO - OCTOBER 2, 2023

 

 

As technology gets smarter, hearing aids get smaller. Whereas in the not-so-recent past most hearing aids were clunky and visible to everyone, today you can find hearing aids that are smaller and more discreet without sacrificing performance. But not all small hearing aids are created equally. Keep reading to learn more about the different types and see which might work best for you.

What Types Are the Smallest Hearing Aids?

The world of hearing aids has witnessed remarkable advancements in miniaturization, making it possible to create incredibly small and discreet devices that pack a powerful auditory punch. 

Among the smallest hearing aids available are the Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) hearing aids, Completely-in-Canal (CIC), and In-the-Canal (ITC) hearing aids. These (mostly) custom-made devices are designed to fit snugly within the ear canal, providing wearers with both subtlety and impressive sound quality, but there are some notable differences amongst them.

Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) Hearing Aids

IIC hearing aids are the smallest and most discreet type of hearing aids available. They are custom-made to fit the shape of your ear and sit deep inside the ear canal, making them almost invisible when worn. They are a good option for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss who want a hearing aid that others won’t notice, but their small size can mean a shorter battery life, and changing the battery may be a challenge for those with dexterity issues. Also, because they’re custom-made, they do carry a higher price tag than over-the-counter hearing aids.

Completely-in-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

Traditional CIC hearing aids are also custom-made to fit completely inside the ear canal, and though they’re slightly larger than IIC hearing aids, they, too, are virtually invisible. They are typically appropriate for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss who want to go about their daily lives confidently and without self-consciousness.

While most CIC hearing aids are custom-made, some, such as those offered by Eargo, offer a unique CIC design that is not a custom fit. This is beneficial for several reasons. First, you can get your hearing aids in a few days versus the one or two months it takes to get a custom fit at the audiologist clinic. Custom CIC hearing aids also fill up the entire ear canal, leaving very little space for air and sound transfer around or through the hearing aid. This can make sounds muffled or sound like you’re listening to them underwater—this is known as the occlusion effect. Eargo hearing aids have small tips known as Petals that fit into your ear canal. The Petals fit so that it feels like the hearing aids are “floating” in the ear canal, allowing for full contact with the ear canal without totally occluding the ear canal.

Learn more about how Eargo’s CIC hearing aids work and the many benefits here

In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids

ITC hearing aids are a bit larger than IIC and CIC models, as they are designed to fit partially in the ear canal, filling just the opening of the ear. Though they are discreet, they can still be seen by someone looking closely. They are also custom-made and can provide room for controls for volume and mode changes and larger batteries compared to the smaller models. Like the IIC and CIC hearing aids, they’re better for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. 

How Do Small Hearing Aids Work?

Every hearing aid has the same five components—a microphone to pick up sounds, an amplifier to increase the sound, a signal processor to regulate the sound, a receiver to deliver the sound, and a battery. And while small hearing aids, like the models listed above, operate on similar principles as older, traditional behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, they do have some key differences that enhance their discreetness and convenience.

Unlike traditional BTE models, which have components housed behind the ear and a tube leading to an earmold or receiver in the ear canal, small hearing aids are designed to be discreetly positioned within the ear canal itself. The control settings for small hearing aids are also usually in an app, whereas with the BTE hearing aid, they’re on the back of the hearing aid itself.

And while one might assume that the more miniature the size of the hearing aid, the lower the amplification, that’s no longer true. Technology has advanced to the point where small hearing aids are just as effective as BTE models for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. (BTE models remain the best option for those severely affected with hearing loss.) 

One thing to keep in mind is that the closer together the five components are on the hearing aid, the greater the risk of poor sound quality or feedback. That means the technology needs to be more advanced, which is why you’ll usually see steeper price tags for the smaller devices.

Closeup of exploded view of Eargo hearing aids, showing the internal components

Benefits of Small Hearing Aids

Obviously, one of the biggest benefits of small hearing aids is that their size and placement in the ear make them much more discreet than BTE styles. But the benefits don’t stop there. Other advantages include:

  • Comfortable fit: They’re lightweight and comfortable in the ear, with no external wires or tubes. 

  • Improved sound quality: Most small hearing aids have less of an occlusion effect for the wearers, resulting in a more natural listening experience. 

  • Reduced wind noise: Their placement within the ear canal can reduce wind noise interference.

  • Good for everyday activities: Smaller hearing aids won’t interfere with routine activities like talking on the phone or wearing glasses, a hat, or a face mask.

Virtually Invisible Hearing Aids: Eargo Design and Features 

When it comes to virtually invisible hearing aids, Eargo seamlessly combines cutting-edge technology with discreet design features. Our mission is to make hearing virtually invisible, which is why our hearing devices are designed to be heard, not seen. Some of the design elements and features that make this possible are:

  • A tiny, rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 16 hours on a single charge and up to two days with the portable charger on Eargo 6 and later models.

  • Sound Adjust that automatically optimizes your soundscape as you move between environments, removing the hassle of constant manual adjustments on Eargo 6 and 7.

  • Self-fitting technology so you can skip the in-office appointments for fittings and adjustments and personalize your devices to your unique hearing needs from the comfort of your home on Eargo 5 and later models.

  • Trusted and discreet telecare support for the lifetime of your Eargo products.

From design to personalization to telecare and support, Eargo is reimagining what hearing wellness looks like. Start your journey to better hearing and discover which of our hearing aids makes the most sense for your needs here.

Learn more about hearing aid style considerations.

 


 

This content is made available for educational purposes only and to provide a general understanding of issues around hearing loss, hearing health, and the hearing aid industry. It is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. By using this website you understand that the information contained herein should not be used as a substitute for competent advice from a licensed health care professional in your state. Furthermore, you agree to absolve Eargo of any liability or loss that you or any other person may incur from use of the information you access through this website. Any testimonials used are from actual customers about results they personally achieved and are not intended to guarantee that current or future customers will achieve the same or similar results; rather, these testimonials represent what is possible. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information shared on or through this website, the information may inadvertently contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. Because scientific, technology, and business practices are constantly evolving, you agree that Eargo is not responsible for the views, opinions, or accuracy of facts referenced on or through this website, or for any errors or omissions that may occur.