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Hearing aids come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. For those who would like a discreet style, an invisible hearing aid may be a suitable option.
This article explains what invisible hearing aids are and reviews three of the top invisible hearing aid products.
A hearing aid is an electronic device that fits behind or inside the ear. It helps amplify sounds so a person with hearing loss can hear them more clearly.
A hearing aid consists of three parts:
The microphone detects the sound and sends out electrical signals to the amplifier. The amplifier then takes these signals and sends them to the speaker.
Invisible hearing aids are small and discreet and usually sit deep inside the ear canal instead of behind the ear. Most models are only appropriate for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss due to their size. In some cases, a person’s ear canal may not be the right shape to accommodate these invisible devices.
The most common styles of invisible hearing aids are:
- invisible-in-canal (IIC)
- completely-in-canal (CIC)
- in-the-canal (ITC)
People fit IIC devices deep within the ear canal and remove them by pulling a small string.
CIC and ITC models are similar but do not sit as deeply within the ear canal.
A person may wish to consider their budget before purchasing an invisible hearing aid model. In general, invisible hearing aids are no more expensive than other hearing aids, but certain brands may differ in price.
Features may also vary between models. For example, some hearing aid models are rechargeable, while others use disposable batteries.
Due to the size of invisible hearing aids, they usually use disposable batteries. And because of the small size of the battery, people often need to change them more frequently.
Many hearing aid brands are also now compatible with a smartphone app. This is particularly common with invisible hearing aids as they are too small or too deep within the ear to allow a person to press buttons on the device. Apps usually allow people to control settings and volume using Bluetooth connectivity.
A person should also consider the fact that earwax buildup may be an issue with invisible hearing aids. These devices can push wax deeper into the ear canal or cause ear wax to build up inside the hearing aid.
The small size of these devices may also lead to complications for those with reduced dexterity.
Below is a list of some examples of invisible hearing aids from leading hearing care brands.
Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.
The Picasso model by Starkey is available in the following styles:
The company custom-makes the Picasso to fit a person’s ear, with the hearing aid resting deep within the ear canal. It is available in six different skin colors.
The device uses disposable batteries, with the type depending on the model a person chooses.
Users can also stream TV, phone calls, and music directly to their hearing aids using Bluetooth technology. There is also a customizable tinnitus relief function.
Additionally, Starkey offers a 30-day risk-free trial and help with financing. They also feature a worry-free warranty, which is active for as long as a person’s hearing aids are in proper working condition. This warranty covers damage, failure, and loss.
The Signia Silk X is a CIC model available in two colors. The left and right shells are different colors, so a person knows which hearing aid goes in which ear.
The Silk X features silicone sleeves that click on to the hearing devices to help with comfort. These sleeves also help ensure a snug fit.
They are available in four sizes, meaning a person does not need to order custom hearing aids to fit their ear shape. This saves time and effort, but the fit may be better with a customized mold.
People can also control the device with the Signia smartphone app. If an individual does not have a smartphone, they can use Signia’s miniPocket accessory, which can remotely control the hearing aids.
The Signia Silk X uses a size 10 disposable battery that a person needs to change every 3–5 days, on average.
Eargo provides over-the-counter hearing aids, meaning a person does not need to see a doctor or obtain a prescription to purchase them.
This model fits directly into the ear and features an open-fit design with “flexi palms.” These flexi palms let natural, low frequencies pass into the eardrum, as well as allowing air to enter the ear itself.
The Eargo Neo also uses rechargeable batteries, with the case for the devices acting as a charger. Eargo claims the battery can last up to a week on a single charge.
This model has four sound profiles that a person can do
uble-tap their ear to switch between them.
The Eargo Neo comes with a 45-day returns policy and a 1-year warranty.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) says that only 1 in 5 people who could benefit from using a hearing aid actually use one.
Research indicates that hearing aids are helpful, particularly in those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that some benefits of hearing aids include:
- being able to hear telephone calls, music, and TV more clearly
- communicating with others more easily
- improvements in the ability to communicate in noisy environments
However, the organization adds that hearing aids do not restore normal hearing and require an adjustment period.
The FDA recommends a person visits a medical professional if they have any of the following symptoms:
- visible deformities of the ear resulting from an injury or since birth
- fluid, pus, or blood coming from the ear
- sudden, quickly worsening, or fluctuating hearing loss
- a large difference in hearing ability between ears
- ear wax buildup or a feeling that something is in the canal
- pain or discomfort
- ringing in the ears
There are alternatives to discreet styles of hearing aids that fit within the ear, including behind-the-ear or receiver-in-canal devices.
These are slightly larger and hook on to the back of the ear. They may suit those with severe-to-profound hearing loss and often have more features.
For those who have hearing loss in one ear, contralateral routing of signal (CROS), or bilateral microphones with contralateral routing of signal (BiCROS) hearing aids, may be an alternative.
With CROS and BiCROS hearing aids, a person wears a hearing aid in both ears. Sound transfers from the ear that is affected by hearing loss to the good ear.
A CROS system is suitable for people who have no hearing in one ear and sufficient hearing in the other ear. BiCROS may be appropriate for people who have no hearing in one ear and moderate hearing loss in the other.
These hearing aids can be wireless or come with a wire that a person wears around the back of their neck.
For those with severe hearing loss, hearing aids that a person wears on their body may be an option. These are more powerful and use a small box connected to earphones. The box is small enough to put inside a pocket or clip on to clothes.
Many discreet and invisible hearing aids are available on the United States market, and most leading hearing care brands stock invisible styles.
Some of these hearing aids allow people to control them with a smartphone app, remote control, or by using the device itself.
However, these invisible hearing aids are mostly suitable for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss and often have fewer features than larger models. They may also need charging frequently.
A person should also consider the warranty and trial periods of the hearing aid brand they are thinking about buying.