CIC Hearing Aids

These are the smallest hearing aids you can find among those located inside the ear (Unlike the BTE, for instance, that sits behind the ear).

As you can figure out by its name, the CIC resides completely in the Canal. Therefore, in order to use it, your ear canal must be long enough. How can you tell? The Audiologist can. The CIC hearing aid got this miniature nylon string that enables to pull it out. There are several reasons to buy it...

How come it is so popular?

cic hearing aids CIC hearing aids
Click here for more details on CIC parts...

There are lots of people who choose the CIC hearing aids because they don't want others to know that they are using a hearing aid. The CIC is practically invisible and no one can notice it, unless he picks into your hearing canal.

As for the hearing quality:
Since the microphone is in the canal itself, it receives the sounds from the outside similarly to regular hearing. The voices are gathered using the outer ear and the canal itself, just like normal hearing (and unlike BTE devices where the microphone is located behind the ear, above the outer ear).

The speaker is located very close to the eardrum and gives great signal power. Since it is very close to the eardrum, you can use less amplification and this usually reduces feedback problems (this annoying whistle you hear if you put a microphone next to a speaker).

On the other hand, some can argue that since the device is so small, by definition the mic is close to the speaker and this increases the odds for feedback...
Another nice advantage of the CIC is that comparing with other hearing aids, it is fairly protected from winds. This can become really annoying with other types of devices.

Want another advantage? You can use the telephone like you normally would, just place it next to the ear.
Last nice thing about it - comparing to other in-the-ear devices, the CIC keeps the ear quite ventilated and the occlusion effect is reduced due to its deep location in the canal.

There is another version of in-the-canal hearing aids, the invisible-in-the-canal hearing aids. See more here.

OK, so what are the problems?

The CIC might be problematic If you got lots of infections or excessive ear wax secretion. This might jam it pretty often, and it will require high maintenance and lots of cleaning. Beyond that, if your ear got lots of wax and you tend to have infections it is better for you that the ear will remain ventilated.

The CIC is best used with minor to moderate hearing loss. On some cases,depends on what frequencies are damaged, it can support severe hearing loss too. This is mainly due to its small size. It simply can’t amplify as the BTE devices.

Another disadvantage is that since it is quite tiny, it hasn't got enough room to all the buttons and control wheels. In most of the cases, you can't play around with its properties on different daily scenarios. You have to leave with the configuration the audiologist fixed. There are sophisticated CIC devices that you can control using some additional remote  control. This enables you to have the remote control in your pocket, for instance, and to fit the configuration of the CIC hearing aid to the environment (Listen to a concert, in a living room full of people or in the nature, for example).

Its small size is problematic on few more issues. First, it's imposibble to have microphones system that enables directional voice recieving. this lack of microphones system decreases the ability to filter noises. It is much esier to filter noices on bigger devices. Second, changing the battery might get tricky to folks that have problems with fine motor skills. On top of that, the batteries are pretty small and don't hold for long.

The CIC hearing aids are usually not suited for kids. Like all the hearing aids that you place within the ear, you have to make a new one whenever the kid grows.

To summarize, here are the highlights of the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Discreet
  • Located close to the eardrum

Cons

  • Difficult to handle due to small size
  • Occlusion effect
  • Small batteries (and therefore don’t run much till you have to replace)
  • Not supporting deep hearing loss
  • Can't switch between programs for different scenarios
  • Tend to failure due to ear wax


Bottom line

CIC hearing aids are a great option if your hearing loss isn't too deep and you don’t want people to notice your hearing aid. You have to take into account that it is tiny with all the problems that come with it.

Its popularity is decreasing in that last few years due to open fit hearing aids. The open fit hearing aids are just as invisible but without most of the CIC disadvantages.

Here is a short video showing a CIC hearing aid named FUSE by Unitron. Uniquely, it doesn't require an impression.


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