According to data from the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), approximately 48 million Americans suffer from varying degrees of hearing loss, with only about one-fifth of them using hearing aids.
If left untreated, hearing loss can have significant impacts on an individual's health and quality of life. In fact, studies indicate that untreated hearing loss may lead to depression, decline in cognitive abilities, and an increased risk of dementia.
Many older adults often view "aging and hearing loss" as a normal part of getting older and may not give it the attention it deserves. However, the consequences of age-related hearing loss go beyond just auditory capabilities.
Risks of age-related hearing loss:
Part 1: Consequences of age-related hearing loss
Age-related hearing loss leads to a decline in auditory and speech recognition abilities, making it difficult for older individuals to communicate effectively and access useful information and knowledge. This affects their social participation and learning abilities, lowering their confidence and self-esteem.
Part 2: Emotional impact and discomfort
Age-related hearing loss increases emotional distress and discomfort, making older individuals more prone to feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, fear, and other negative emotions. These emotions affect their mental health and overall well-being, increasing the risk of conditions such as dementia and depression.
Part 3: Decline in cognitive abilities
Age-related hearing loss results in a decline in cognitive function, affecting memory, attention, thinking, and judgment. This impacts their daily life and decision-making abilities, while also increasing the likelihood of accidents and falls.
Part 4: How to prevent age-related hearing loss
Although age-related hearing loss is an irreversible auditory impairment, some preventive measures can help slow or alleviate its occurrence and progression.
Despite this, many people are reluctant to undergo hearing treatment due to concerns about the appearance of hearing aids. Fortunately, there are many small, discreet, and easy-to-use hearing aids, including Completely-in-Canal (CIC) and Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) devices, suitable for individuals with varying degrees of hearing loss.
Continue reading to learn more about CIC and IIC hearing aids, including how they work, who is best suited to use them, and the best options to consider according to expert recommendations.
While age-related hearing loss is irreversible, some preventive measures can help slow or alleviate its occurrence and progression.
What are completely in the canal (CIC), invisible in the canal (IIC), and in the canal (ITC) hearing aids?
Completely in-the-canal (CIC) and invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids are the smallest, most discreet hearing aids on the market, says Dr. Taylor Wucinich, a clinical audiologist. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
CIC and IIC hearing aids are products specially designed for the wearer's ear canal. "Full-in-the-canal hearing aids are designed to fit a few millimeters into the ear canal, while invisible-in-the-canal hearing aids are smaller and designed to fit into the second bend of the ear canal for deeper, wider hearing. Less obvious fit,” explains Dr. Amy Sarow, a clinical audiologist in Michigan and a member of the Forbes Health Advisory Board.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are slightly larger and more noticeable than CIC hearing aids and IIC hearing aids, although all three are much smaller and less noticeable than traditional hearing aids.
IIC and CIC hearing aids are specifically designed to fit in the wearer's ear canal. Dr. Amy Salo, a clinical audiologist in Michigan and member of the Forbes Health Advisory Council, explains that Completely-in-Canal (CIC) hearing aids are designed to snugly fit in the ear canal, while Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) hearing aids are even smaller, intended to be placed at the second bend of the ear canal for a deeper, broader auditory experience and a less noticeable appearance.
Discuss the pros and cons of ITC, IIC, and CIC hearing aids.
Advantages of CIC hearing aids:
Although not completely invisible, CIC hearing aids are very small and not easily noticeable when someone casually looks at your ears. If you are concerned about others noticing your hearing aids, CIC devices may be a good choice.
Many CIC devices can be worn continuously for months, 24 hours a day, so you don't have to worry about taking them off at night and putting them on every morning.
Easy smartphone use:
Like ITC devices, CIC hearing aids can be easily used with smartphones. Many devices on the market today can be paired with smartphones using Bluetooth technology. For example, CHOSGO Hearing's K23 product allows control of volume and auditory programs through a Bluetooth app, and supports answering phone calls and playing music!
Disadvantages of CIC hearing aids:
CIC hearing aids are small and use smaller batteries than other hearing aids. As a result, many CIC hearing aids often run out of battery faster. However, with the advancement of lithium battery technology, the batteries of many CIC hearing aids can now run continuously for 18-20 hours, with a battery life that can be maintained for 2-3 years. For example, CHOSGO Hearing's SmartU product runs continuously for 18 hours, with a battery life of up to 2.5 years, and CHOSGO also offers a replacement service after 2 years!
Due to their small size and advanced technology, CIC hearing aids are generally more expensive than behind-the-ear hearing aids.
Due to their small size, CIC devices cannot accommodate the additional features that larger devices can provide. Adjusting the volume through buttons is also more challenging, but with the development of hearing aid and Bluetooth technology, many devices now control volume through a Bluetooth app, eliminating the need for button operation and reducing the difficulty of small button operation.
Advantages of IIC hearing aids:
Because IIC hearing aids sit deeper in the ear canal, they are more discreet than CIC devices. They are also slightly smaller.
IIC devices are popular among children and young adults because they are virtually invisible, even if someone looks directly at your ears. The only visible part is the small cord connected to the device, which can be pulled out to remove the device.
IIC devices are custom-made for comfortable wear. You might even forget they're there. Since they are installed in the ear canal, you can still use headphones to listen to music and lead a normal life.
Natural sound experience:
Because IIC hearing aids sit deep in the ear canal, they can reduce the common feeling of sounds being louder than they actually are.
Your outer ear absorbs sounds, creating a realistic, natural sound experience.
On the current market, the Eargo 6 system and Chosgo's SmartU series can be considered true IIC hearing aids. They represent the best of IIC hearing aids, featuring advanced technological content, in line with the recommendations of hearing experts, and high-quality sound processing chips that have gained many loyal fans!
Disadvantages of IIC hearing aids:
The small size of IIC hearing aids may also be a disadvantage. Because they are smaller, technologies like directional microphones are only available in some advanced devices, and they are relatively more expensive.
Short battery life:
Due to their small size, their lifespan is shorter. Replacement of batteries can be challenging due to their small size.
Due to their location in the ear canal, IIC hearing aids are more prone to earwax and moisture buildup than other devices. Additionally, they are not easy to remove and clean. They may require more cleaning and maintenance than other devices.
Advantages of ITC Hearing Aids:
ITC hearing aids, positioned within the ear canal, are a popular choice for those seeking a discreet way to improve hearing. The advantages of ITC hearing aids include:
ITC hearing aids are designed to fit inside the ear canal, making them very discreet. Many individuals are reluctant to wear hearing aids because they don't want others to see them. With this type of hearing aid, you can achieve improved hearing without worrying about others detecting your device.
Ease of Use with Smartphones:
Many people enjoy chatting on the phone or conducting work-related phone conversations. Due to their location and size, ITC hearing aids are easy to pair with smartphones, and many modern devices are compatible with smartphones.
Disadvantages of ITC Hearing Aids:
Not One Size Fits All:
ITC hearing aids may not be suitable for all patients, including those with more severe hearing loss. In some cases, the power of these hearing aids may be insufficient for optimal effectiveness and may not be suitable for individuals prone to recurrent ear infections.
The size of the hearing aids means that ITC devices are more challenging to clean and maintain. The aids are also slightly more difficult to remove compared to Behind-the-Ear (BTE) or Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) hearing aids.
ITC hearing aids are among the smallest models on the market. Individuals with dexterity issues may encounter difficulties in handling these devices.
Representative models of ITC hearing aids include MDHearing NEO, Audien hearing aids Atom-2, Nano hearing aids CIC2, CHOSGO K419R, and K19R. These ITC hearing aids are discreet, compact, highly inconspicuous, and offer stable and reliable sound quality. They are rechargeable, providing approximately 15 hours of use on a single charge, and come with a portable charging case. Importantly, they are reasonably priced, typically ranging between $199 and $299, meeting the needs and affordability of most hearing loss patients.
Working Principles of IIC and CIC hearing Aids:
In addition to the charging components, CIC and IIC models have four main components:
Microphones: Capture sounds in the environment, convert them into electrical signals, and then send these signals to the amplifier. Some hearing aid models have multiple microphones.
Amplifier: Used to enhance sound waves and send them to the digital signal processor.
Digital Signal Processor (DSP): Processes sound, providing greater speech comfort and clarity.
Receiver or Speaker: Receives sound from the DSP and emits sound into the ear canal.
All these components are housed in a plastic shell that fits into the ear canal. IIC hearing aids are virtually invisible to others, while CIC hearing aids are slightly more noticeable.
"Most models of each style have four different technology levels: basic, entry-level, intermediate, and advanced. Depending on the technology level, both IIC and CIC hearing aids offer features such as noise reduction, volume control, coil modes, and various programs, including those for addressing tinnitus symptoms," explained Dr. Wucinich.
She added that due to their smaller size, IIC and CIC hearing aids may lack some features found in other types of hearing aids, such as rechargeable batteries or Bluetooth transmission for music or phone calls. However, there are exceptions. For example, CHOSGO Hearing’s K23 CIC hearing aids with Bluetooth can transmit audio and provide rechargeable batteries for CIC hearing aids.
Who is Most Likely to Benefit from IIC and CIC hearing Aids?
IIC and CIC hearing aids are well-suited for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss.
However, those with very small or unusually shaped ear canals may not be suitable candidates for CIC or IIC hearing aids, according to Dr. Sarow. As IIC and CIC hearing aids sit deep in the ear canal, they may require more maintenance than other types of hearing aids.
"Those who prioritize appearance and meet these criteria may be suitable candidates for this type of hearing aid. Satisfaction with hearing technology is a combination of meeting their communication needs and specific preferences," she added.
What is the Cost of IIC and CIC hearing Aids?
The CIC hearing aids cost varies based on their features and technological levels, as well as whether the hearing aids are purchased through bundled or unbundled service arrangements (such as a pay-per-use structure). However, Dr. Salo stated that the technological level is the primary factor determining device costs.
"The higher the technology level, the more complex the computer chip inside the device, providing additional support in challenging environments such as noise," she added.
Cost of a Pair of CIC or IIC Hearing Aids:
The average out-of-pocket costs for a pair of CIC or IIC hearing aids from several well-known brands are as follows:
Basic Technology Level: $2,000
Entry-Level Technology: $4,400
Intermediate Technology: $6,000
Advanced Technology: $7,600
Dr. Salo mentioned that while the CIC hearing aids price and IIC earing aids price are generally comparable and quite high, there are professional hearing aid manufacturers in the current market promoting their brands and offering some very cost-effective CIC hearing aids. For example, the CHOSGO Hearing K419 is priced at $219, discounted to $169. The premium SmartU product is priced at $999. In comparison, the more affordable Eargo 5 is priced at $1,650, saving nearly $700. This represents a very cost-effective deal worth considering.
Most of Chosgo's professional hearing aids are digital devices that use nonlinear amplification technology to compress sound and reduce noise，it’s not a cic hearing amplifiers . Digital devices can be customized based on different levels of hearing loss. They can amplify soft sounds, appropriately amplify mid-level sounds, and compress loud sounds, achieving the effect of "you can hear soft sounds without worrying about loud noises." This makes them comfortable for users to wear and, to some extent, protects residual hearing.
For the same digital hearing aids, the better the sound quality, the more features, the more advanced the technology, the higher the price. The difference between hearing aids costing a few thousand dollars and those costing tens of thousands lies in their ability to better restore real sounds, have better sound quality, operate more conveniently, and effectively improve the quality of life.
Additionally, smaller hearing aids have higher technical requirements, making compact hearing aids more expensive than products with similar functionalities.
In summary, the better the power, features, performance, appearance, and service of a hearing aid, the higher the price. Users should choose hearing aids based on their hearing conditions, hearing needs, health conditions, and financial situations rather than solely on price.
The core of CHOSGO brand hearing aids lies in the chip, digital algorithms, processing speed, signal processing, sound quality, power, intelligence, features, and more. They are directly delivered from the factory to the customer, cutting off the middleman. This allows them to offer products of equivalent quality at a lower price. Chosgo Hearing also provides professional online adaptive services and after-sales service.
Steps to Purchase IIC and CIC hearing Aids:
The first step in purchasing CIC or IIC hearing aids is to schedule a hearing evaluation or hearing test with an audiologist or another hearing health professional.
"During the hearing aid assessment, the audiologist will recommend the most suitable type of hearing aid for each patient based on factors such as the degree of hearing loss, hearing goals, needs, and interests," added Dr. Wucinich.
If CIC or IIC hearing aids are recommended, with the advancement of the Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act by the U.S. FDA, many online Best OTC hearing aids can fully meet patients' needs. They can consult and purchase the required CIC hearing aids based on their hearing loss and the doctor's advice, potentially saving a significant amount of costs.