Types of hearing aids: #3 Customs
For the final post in this blog series, we will be discussing custom hearing aids. These are the hearing aids I get most queries for.
Custom hearing aids come in different formats, including: in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in the-canal (CIC) and invisible in the canal (IIC). These classes influence the overall size of the device, the overall shape of the device and how deep inside the ear canal they are placed. A custom hearing aid is produced according to the individual user's ear canal. For this to happen, an ear impression needs to be taken. An ear impressions is just a copy of the user's ear canal which is then used to design the custom device. Once designed, the whole of the device is worn in the user's ear, with no components behind the ear.
This class of devices was very popular up till the last few years since it was much more inconspicuous than the BTE style. However, RIEs have overtaken customs as the most popular hearing aid style since they tend to be more comfortable to wear and do not always require a custom earmould (making the fitting process quicker than a custom).
1) Cosmetics: Since there is no behind the ear part, many people are attracted to the cosmetic aspect of the device.
2) Easy to handle: May be simpler to put on since it is a single device.
3) Position in the ear: Depending on their position in the ear canal, custom devices may still take advantage of natural features of the ear to boost sound and help with directionality of sounds.
1) Cosmetics: Since devices depend on the user's ear shape, some users may still get devices that are still quite visible.
2) Comfort: Since they occlude the whole ear and are made of a hard material, some users may find them uncomfortable
3) Power: May still be unsuitable for severe to profound hearing losses due to feedback.
4) Buttons: With the smaller models, it may be hard to include buttons and volume control options.
5) Handling: For people with mobility issues, the smaller options such as IIC and CIC may be unsuitable.
6) Maintenance: Since the whole device is placed within the ear, they need more stringent maintenance and may also require more frequent repairs.
Although advantages and disadvantages can vary on a case by case basis, these are good overview of what you would expect with this type of model. The choice will always depend on the patient needs and hearing loss. It is always best to discuss this fully with your audiologist.
Should you have any questions regarding a custom hearing aid, or any type of hearing aid, feel free to contact us.