Smaller than in-the-ear models, in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are designed to fit partially in the ear canal.
It’s a less visible option than a behind-the-ear device since the electronic components are inside of the ear. An ITC style hearing aid can be good choice for patients preferring features that can’t be included on a completely-in-the-canal model because of its smaller size.
An audiologist can perform a comprehensive hearing aid evaluation to determine if you may benefit from this type of hearing assistance solution.
Hearing Assessment for Possible ITC Wearers
ITC hearing aids are intended for use by adults with hearing loss that ranges from mild to moderately severe. In order to pinpoint your specific level and type of hearing loss, you’ll undergo a series of tests. This part of the evaluation typically includes testing responses to various tones and assessing speech recognition abilities.
During a hearing evaluation, audiologists also use special instruments to view the inside of ears to check for any structural problems that may make an in-the-canal device less effective. Additionally, you may be asked about underlying health issues that may affect your hearing such as chronic high blood pressure and your history of hearing loss.
Personal Preferences and Lifestyle Considerations
If a hearing evaluation suggests you may benefit from an ITC hearing aid, the next step will be to discuss your personal preferences and get a better idea of your lifestyle. Because of an increased surface area, in-the-canal styles tend to produce less feedback from acoustic leakage. This can be especially beneficial if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Dual-microphones on newer models can also make it easier to understand conversations in nosier situations.
Feedback you may experience while wearing headphones to listen to music or using your smartphone can be reduced with models that have wireless functionality. Are you uncomfortable with a feeling of having your ear canal sealed? Then you may appreciate an ITC model because it doesn’t fill the entire ear canal. ITC styles are also less likely to work themselves loose when chewing or talking.
ITC Hearing Aid Fitting and Adjustment
The final step with the ITC hearing aid evaluation process–if this style is right for you–will be a fitting that includes customizing the device to your needs. The initial adjustment will be done by an audiologist with special software. Results from your hearing tests will be used to adjust settings appropriately.
If you haven’t worn hearing aids before, there will be an adjustment period as you learn how to insert, remove, and use your preferred ITC model. In-the-canal devices sometimes need to be re-shelled if ear canal cartilage changes shape over time, although this applies to most custom hearing aids.
With an in-the-canal hearing aid, there is a slight loss of natural acoustics experienced by wearers that may present some challenges with localizing sound direction. In some cases, earwax may clog the speaker since it’s inside of the ear canal, although this issue can usually be managed with proper cleaning and shouldn’t be a deterrent to using this particular style. ITC devices can also be a better choice for wearers with limited dexterity and reduced vision.