A Guide to CIC (Completely in the Canal) Hearing Aids

Completely in the Canal hearing aids or CIC are hearing aids that fit completely in the ear canal. As such, they are the least visible and smallest aids available in the market. Since they are placed completely in the ear canal, they offer several advantages when it comes to aesthetics and listening experience.

CIC Hearing Aids Compontents

In CICs, all components (microphone, speaker, batteries, and vent) are placed inside a tiny plastic case that sits right in the ear canal. Since they are placed quite deep in the ear canal, CIC hearing aids come with a removal thread/cord to help the user in pulling out the device.

CIC hearing aids are custom made for the user since they have to be placed inside the canal. Many people prefer CICs as they are virtually unnoticeable unless one looks inside the ear.

CIC hearing aids are not recommended for children, as they are difficult to remove and maintain. They are also not recommended for people who have good low-frequency hearing.

Completely in the Canal Hearing Aids are recommended for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Advantages

CIC hearing aids offer many advantages compared to other hearing aids.

  • A major listening advantage to CIC hearing aids is that it offers a similar experience to normal hearing since the microphone is placed in the ear canal.

 

  • Ideal speaker location

In CIC hearing aids, the speaker is located very close to the eardrums when worn. The location does not only offer better reception but it also requires less amplification. Users also experience less feedback problems.

  • Easy to Use with a Telephone

Unlike BTEs (Behind the Ear) hearing aids, CIC hearing aids make it easier to talk on the phone because they don’t impede the positioning of the phone against the ear. With CICs, users can talk on the phone like they would if they weren’t wearing hearing aids.

  • Provides adequate ventilation to the ear
  • Reduced Occlusion Effect

Users report a reduced occlusion effect when using CIC hearing aids since it is deeply placed in the ear canal. The positioning eliminates that ‘hollow’ perception of sound and reduces echoes when hearing one’s own voice.

  • Offers Wind Protection

 

Disadvantages

As with any other type of hearing aid, CIC hearings aids also have some disadvantages especially when it comes to features, some of these disadvantages include:

  • Smaller batteries

As the all the components of CIC hearing aids are placed in a tiny case that fits inside the ear canal, smaller batteries are used. As such, they don’t last as long as the larger batteries of BTEs.

  • Removal and Adjustments

While CIC hearing aids come with a  removal cord, it can still take a bit of practice before users get used to removing it. Making adjustments is also much more difficult as you have to completely remove your hearing aids before you can apply any adjustments.

  • Less Space for Additional Features

Due to its small size, CIC hearing aids don’t offer much space for additional features like a telecoil, volume controls, and directional microphones.

  • Not Suitable for Severe to Profound Hearing Loss

Another major disadvantage to CIC hearing aids is that they can only accommodate mild to moderate hearing loss. Their small size means that their capacity for volume and power is also decreased.

  • Not recommended for people prone to ear wax build up and ear infections.

Despite the disadvantages when it comes to power and features, CIC hearing aids are still very popular due to their cosmetic and listening advantages. If you have mild to moderate hearing loss and you want hearing aids that are “barely there”, CIC hearing aids are worth considering. Consult your audiologist to find out if CICs can accommodate your degree of hearing loss.

A Guide to BTE (Behind the Ear) Hearing Aids

Behind the Ear Hearing Aids or BTE feature a plastic case and an ear mold connected to each other via a clear tube.  When worn, only the ear mold goes inside the ear, the rest of the components are worn behind the ear.

Despite being the oldest hearing aid style and the most visible due to its large size, BTEs are still widely used today due to their durability. Since most of the major components are worn outside the ear, they typically last longer as they are not exposed to ear moisture and ear wax.

How it Works

The plastic case that is worn externally contains all the major components of the hearing aids including the battery, microphone, microchip/digital chip, the amplifier, and the controls. In digital BTEs, the microphone receives the sound and converts it to electrical signals to be sent to the amplifier. The sound is delivered via the clear plastic tube to the ear mold, which sends the sound to the ear. The ear mold is custom made to suit the ears of the wearer.

Behind the Ear Hearing aids are the most widely used because they can accommodate mild to profound hearing loss. They are also recommended for kids because they are easier to clean and maintain.

Benefits of BTEs

While BTEs are the most visible type of hearing aids, they offer many benefits over other hearing aid styles.

  • Durability

They are generally more durable because they have larger components and they are not worn inside the ear limiting the possibility of moisture damage. It is also much easier to replace the batteries in BTEs compared to other hearing aids.

  • Better Sound Quality

BTEs also provide the least feedback since the components are located farther apart from each other (i.e. the microphone and receiver are located far from each other).

  • Suitable for all degrees of hearing loss (mild to profound)
  • Ideal for All Ages

BTEs are the only style that is recommended for kids (especially very young children). Since the ear mold can be replaced, it can accommodate the growing ears of kids without having to replace the entire hearing aid.  BTEs are also a lot safer for kids since most of the components are located externally.

Disadvantages

Compared to other styles of hearing aids, BTEs have the least disadvantages when it comes to listening experience and quality. The only major disadvantage of BTEs is that they are often large and bulky.

Modern varieties, however, are becoming much smaller and less visible. There is also a wider range of styles and designs of BTEs available today, giving consumers more options. Modern BTEs are barely visible especially when covered with one’s hair.

BTEs that come with ear molds also pose a bit of a disadvantage compared to those with ear buds. Ear molds may require periodic replacement and retubing to ensure optimum performance and to help maintain their acoustic seal.

Mini BTEs (Open-Fit)

There is a new type of behind the ear hearing aids that features a finer clear tube and a silicone dome (ear bud) replacing the traditional ear mold. This type of BTE is less visible than the traditional BTE as they are smaller. Mini BTEs offer increased comfort for the wearer since the tube is narrower and leaves the ear canal open. They are suitable for people who have frequent problems with earwax buildup. Many people also prefer open-fit BTEs because they reduce the sensation of being “plugged up” especially when they hear the sound of their own voice.

Since Mini BTEs offer listening and aesthetic advantages, many adults prefer them to the traditional ones.

Behind the Ear hearing aids are suitable for people of any age and degree of hearing loss. Prices of advanced BTEs can range from $1300 to $2700 or higher, depending on their available features.

Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children

Hearing loss can affect anyone regardless of age and children are no exception to this. In the US alone, 2 to 3 out of every 1000 children have some degree of hearing loss and 12% of children between the ages of 6 to 19 years old suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.

While it is standard procedure in all hospitals in the US for newborn infants to undergo newborn hearing screening, many children with congenital hearing loss fail to receive proper treatment. Children who lose their hearing later on are at risk of living their life with undetected hearing loss, which is why it is important for parents and caregivers to know what to look for.

Signs and symptoms of hearing loss in children may vary depending on the age of the child and the circumstance. It may be harder to notice hearing loss in kids who develop hearing loss before they are able to speak. Since children are expected to reach certain developmental milestones at different stages in their life, observing any issues or problems with their hearing in relation to their age is the best way to detect any signs of possible hearing loss.

Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of hearing loss in children by age:

Infants and Babies

From birth to 4 months, infants can already process different sounds around them. Observe how your child reacts to different sounds. Does your child get startled when he or she hears loud noises? Does your child respond to the sound of your voice?

By 4 to 9 months, your child should already be familiar with the different sounds he hears everyday. Babies, at this age, already respond to familiar sounds, babbles often, and you may also notice differences in the way your child cries for different needs.  If your child does not seem to respond when called or does not appear startled in the presence of a loud sound, you should consult your doctor right away, as these are common signs of hearing loss in infants.

Toddlers

From 9 to 15 months, children are already capable of saying one to two-syllable words like “mama” or “dada”, can respond to simple requests, and responds when their own name is called.   By this point, your child will also already use different sounds to get attention.

At around 15 to 24 months, your child will already be capable of saying different words. Children, at this age, enjoy listening to music, stories, and nursery rhymes. They are also familiar with the names of some objects.

If your child does not respond to sounds or does not show any of the aforementioned developmental milestones, it is best to consult your pediatrician so that you can be referred to an expert if hearing loss is suspected to be causing the developmental delays. While hearing loss may not necessarily be causing these developmental delays, it is best to be sure so your child can receive appropriate treatment at the earliest possible time.

Hearing Loss in Older Kids (Preschool age and up)

It is easier to detect hearing loss in older kids than it is in toddlers and infants but it can still remain undetected especially since most hearing loss happens gradually. The following symptoms may indicate hearing loss in older kids:

  • Watches TV or listens to music in very high volume
  • Does not respond when called
  • Often asks for things to be repeated or has difficulty following conversations
  • Shows speech problems or language delays
  • Complains about hearing noises in their head
  • Complains about pain in the ears
  • Does not answer questions properly
  • Frequently watches people and imitates what they are doing

These are just some of the common symptoms of hearing loss in older kids. While showing any or most of these symptoms may not necessarily mean that your child has hearing loss, it is still worth undergoing a hearing test just to be safe.

If you suspect that your child has hearing loss, seek medical help right away so that you can be referred to an audiologist for a proper hearing evaluation. Children can be tested for hearing loss at any age but the type of test may vary depending on their age and current developmental level.

If left undetected, children who lose their hearing before or during the crucial stages of language development may have a difficult time adapting to their condition. If left untreated, your child may suffer from permanent speech impairment and learning and language delays. Early medical intervention can make a significant difference in your child’s life and development even if their hearing cannot be restored.