What is an In the Canal hearing aid?
Also sometimes known as Half Shell hearing aids, In The Canal (ITC) hearing aids are very similar to In The Ear (ITE) aids, except that they are slightly smaller and so sit only in the lower part of your ear, filling the ear canal, but not the whole ear concha itself.
Again they are made to a custom mould of your ear and so promise a comfortable fit and a fairly small and inconspicuous design. However, they are still larger and therefore more noticeable than Completely In the Canal (CIC) hearing aids and Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aids.
Their smaller size may mean that they are less visible to others, but it does also mean that they are not able to be as powerful as some of the larger, or behind-the-ear hearing aid styles. However, if you only have mild to moderate hearing loss and are looking for a reasonably small, comfortable and easy to use hearing aid then In The Canal (ITC) could be a great choice for you.
In The Canal (ITC) hearing aids have numerous different advantages and disadvantages. Our information below details some of the most common of these, however for more details please contact our expert team today and we’ll happily talk you through all of your options and book your free hearing test too.
Let's start with the pros of ITC hearing aids - Comfortable to wear
As they are made to a custom mould of your ear, In The Canal (ITC) hearing aids are extremely comfortable to wear. Their small size also means that it won’t be long before you are likely to have forgotten that you are wearing it at all – apart from the fact that your hearing is better!
Due to the fact that In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell hearing aids are only just large enough to fill the entrance to your ear canal they are much more discreet than hearing aid styles such as Behind The Ear (BTE), Receiver In Canal (RIC) or In The Ear (ITE). Many models are also available in a selection of colours to match in with your skin tone and so it is often difficult for other people to spot that you are wearing them at all.
Although the name suggests otherwise, In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell hearing aids do not actually sit fully inside of the ear canal, so there is still room on the casing itself for a number of control buttons, switches or sliders. This can make quickly adjusting the volume of the programme of your hearing aid quick and simple to do. However, their reduced size does mean that some more intricate adjustments may need to be made via an external remote control or smartphone app.
Whereas with most Behind The Ear (BTE) or Open / Receiver In Canal (RIC) hearing aids you have to hold the telephone slightly above or behind your ear, with In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell hearing aids you can still use your phone in the completely natural position. You are also normally still able to helmets and most other headgear naturally too.
Once you have done it a couple of times you are likely to find that you can quickly and simply pop your In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell hearing aid in and out with the minimum of fuss. Also because they are made to a custom mould of your ear then you will immediately know if they are not positioned correctly and should be able to easily adjust them to achieve a perfect fit.
Now, the cons of ITC hearing aids - Reasonably conspicuous
Although, of course, they are smaller and less visible than Behind The Ear (BTE), Open / Receiver In Canal (RIC) or In The Ear (ITE) / Full Shell hearing aids, In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell hearing aids can still be seen by most people who get reasonably close to you.
However, most models are available in colours to match in with your skin tone and many users find that the trade-off between their ease of use and slight visibility is perfectly acceptable.
Requires a higher level of dexterity
On the smaller style hearing aids, such as In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell types, routine jobs such as cleaning, maintenance, changing the batteries, and even just insertion and removal, require a reasonably high level of manual dexterity. This may mean that they are not suitable for users with dexterity or visual impairments.
Can occlude the ear(s)
When an object completely fills the ear canal it can cause symptoms such as; hearing your own voice louder or it sounding hollow, feeling that your ear is blocked or chewing food sounding noisy or unpleasant.
Although to a lesser extent than the In The Ear (ITE) / Full Shell-style of hearing aids, In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell types can still cause users to suffer from the annoying results of occlusion. However many styles now include a small vent, which can alleviate these symptoms.
As a result of their smaller size, In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell hearing aids are simply not able to include as large a processor/amplifier etc, or as many advanced technological features as some of the larger hearing aid styles. This means that they may not be able to deliver enough power for them to be suitable for people with more advanced levels of hearing loss.
Again due to their smaller size, In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell hearing aids may only be able to include some of the most basic controls on the casing itself. The majority of adjustments that you may wish to make will need to be made via an external device, such as a dedicated remote control or a smartphone app. However, we find that many people who are opting for a smaller sized hearing aid are doing so because they do not wish it be obvious that they are wearing a hearing aid at all, and so inconspicuously adjusting your hearing aid via their mobile phone is actually a desirable feature.
The smaller your hearing aid is then the smaller the size of the battery it can take. Most In The Canal (ITC) / Half Shell hearing aids are only able to include the smallest battery sizes, which inevitably produce smaller amounts of power. This means that they are not able to support some of the more advanced features and also that the batteries need to be changed more often. However, there is a growing field of rechargeable hearing aids which would at least mean that changing the batteries more frequently is no longer an issue.
The further a hearing aid goes into the ear then the more susceptible it is to damage from natural moisture within the ear and ear wax. If you are rigorous about following the advised care plan of cleaning, dehumidifying and general maintenance then you are unlikely to have too many problems, however, this commitment may be too time-consuming or simply off-putting for some people.
To find out more about In the Canal (ITC) hearing aids, or any of the other types of hearing aids that are available, contact our advisors and let us help you find the right hearing aid today. Call us free on 0800 567 7621
When we refer to a product as 'New', we mean that the product is new to the market.
When we refer to a product as 'Superseded', we mean that there is a newer range available which replaces and improves on this product.
When we refer to a product as an 'Older Model', we mean that it is has been superseded by at least two more recent hearing aid ranges.