What are Custom Hearing Aids?
The term ‘Custom’ broadly refers to hearing aids that sit inside the ear and require a hearing care professional (HCP) to take an ear impression. This impression ensures the hearing aid shell is fabricated to the shape of the patient’s ear. Custom aids come in many different form factors including In-the-Ear (ITE), Completely-in-Ear (CIC), In-the-canal (ITC) and Invisible-incanal (IIC).
Before the popularity of Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) hearing aids, Custom devices were the standard in discreet premium technology. Custom hearing aids fit a range of hearing losses from mild to severe and can cater to sensorineural, mixed and conductive losses. Custom hearing aids when fitted well can be a great alternative to Behind-the-ear (BTE) or RIC hearing devices.
The quality of the impression is a key determining factor in the fit and comfort of a Custom hearing aid. Typically, a deep ear impression can ensure better sound quality by placing the tip of the hearing aid into the bony portion of the ear. A deep fitting Custom aid can minimise the occlusion effect that a hearing aid wearer experiences with their own voice.
When a Custom product is fitted deeply into the ear canal, usually CIC and IIC form factors, it allows your pinna (Outer ear) to operate in its natural state. This means the sound is attenuated at the back and funnelled more directly into the ear canal from the front – Known as the pinna effect. The pinna effect gives directional benefit, which may help to decide if the sound is coming from the front or back.
What to look for when choosing a Custom Hearing Aid?
As with other hearing aid styles the Custom Hearing Aid range is extensive. Choosing a hearing care provider that has the expertise, experience and offers choice across many brands allows you to access a wider range of options.
Custom Aids typically hold the same features as their BTE & RIC counter parts, meaning they use the same processing chip, microphones, and amplifiers. The ITC and ITE form factors can now house a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth antenna for mobile phone connectivity.
The smaller Custom styles (CIC, IIC) typically sacrifice some modern features such as; Bluetooth connectivity, rechargeability and directional microphones. The counter argument to Bluetooth connectivity with Custom aids is the phone can still be placed to the ear as normal and utilise the hearing device microphones.
One of the popular CIC styles is made by Phonak and utilises titanium to create the shell to ensure the smallest possible fit. Titanium is 15 times stronger than acrylic which allows shells to be built 50% thinner, so discreet, others will barely notice it.’ Dexterity of the fingers and hands need to be taken into consideration with the smaller Custom hearing aids. CIC and IIC devices can be made very tiny and take a disposable button battery that requires changing twice a week. Ask your HCP for a demonstration of the specific model you have chosen.
Are Custom hearing aids right for me?
As any good quality hearing care professional would suggest, it depends on a range of factors including, size and profile of the ear canal, degree of hearing loss, type of hearing loss, ear canal health (previous and current), listening goals and a needs analysis. Each patient is different and will require different considerations. The best advice is to seek an opinion from a qualified and experienced Hearing Care Professional.
At Smart Hearing Solutions we have the full range of brands at affordable prices with our payment plan options. We are an independent hearing clinic providing individual solutions to meet your specific hearing loss needs. Call now for a demonstration or in-home trial of the latest custom technology 1300 017 732.
Access to subsidised Custom Hearing Aids is available through the Hearing Services Program for eligible participants.