By Dawn Heiman, AuD
Can I get the smallest hearing aid? I see it in advertisements everywhere.”
At least once a week, I meet someone new in my office who asks me this question. No doubt, it’s a great question!
Coping with hearing loss and admitting you have hearing loss is not easy, so, naturally, most people ask this question. Many people tell me about how difficult it was to come to my office and they would like to keep their hearing loss a secret.
Hearing aid advertising has been filling our mailboxes and newspapers lately. In the ads, it seems like everyone is getting that itty bitty microscopic hearing aid, right?
Wrong. And here’s why:
Your hearing loss may be too good (or too bad) for the smallest hearing aid.
Your type and degree of hearing loss may not allow you to get the smallest hearing aid. (Your audiologist will be able to tell you.) Also, you may not have large enough ear canals to support the electronics necessary for the instrument. Not surprisingly, the “completely in the canal hearing aids” are really small. If your ear canals tend to be on the small size, you may be counseled about bumping up the size a bit.
You may not like the fullness feeling.
A custom, deep in the canal instrument can plug up your ears. The hearing aids are made of a hard plastic and some people do not like the feeling this style of hearing aid creates, especially after wearing them for 12 hours a day.
Your ears may produce too much ear wax.
This style of hearing aid is constantly breaking down because of how deep the hearing aid needs to be. Ear wax can definitely be an issue with all hearing aids, but the smallest hearing aid may be more sensitive to excessive ear wax than the others.
Your ears tend to drain.
Some people have had multiple ear surgeries and this style of hearing aid may not be the most appropriate.
The batteries may be too small for you.
The smallest hearing aids usually require a battery change at least every 3-4 days, and if you have vision or dexterity issues, this can be a problem.
In my office, I try to counsel about the different styles of hearing aids and what would be best for each patient. I completely understand when someone asks for hearing instruments that are discrete. Usually, they are surprised to find out that the behind-the-ear styles are more discrete, less restrictive, give better sound quality, can be reprogrammed louder if the hearing changes. They are simply easier to handle as well.
Advanced Audiology Consultants
Woodridge and Oakbrook, IL