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Despite the increase in availability of small RIC and thin-tubing BTE products, many people still prefer the idea of in the canal hearing aids. For most people without hearing aid experience, ITC (in-the-canal) or ITE (in-the-ear) hearing aids are still thought to offer a more cosmetic fit and many people ask for these initially when investigating hearing aids for the first time.
Most manufacturers distinguish between the ITC and ITEs, usually on the basis of size. ITC hearing aids are generally manufactured smaller than ITEs (the ‘ear’ part of the description referring to the product filling some of the actual concha or bowl part of the outer ear, rather than just the canal and entrance to the canal sections). ITEs may also be further categorised as ‘full-shell’ or ‘half-shell,’ which describes how much of the concha section will be filled.
As its name suggests, ITCs are hearing aids which fit into the ear canal, all the components sit within a casing, usually known as a shell.
"this shell is moulded for an individual ear"
Most commonly, this shell is moulded for an individual ear, after that person has had an ear impression taken. Some products are also available in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ shell, which is modelled for the average adult ear canal.
Hearing Direct also showcase several different in the canal hearing aids:
If a comfortable fit is achieved, many people find ITC products easy to wear, and easy to put in and take out.
However, even if the fit is physically comfortable within the canal, many people, particularly those with more mild/moderate high-frequency losses do report feeling rather ‘blocked up’ with something now in their ear. This is referred to as ‘occlusion. ’ Some people will acclimatise to this sensation very quickly; others may struggle to get used to it at all. Occlusion can be minimised by drilling a hole through the shell, known as a ‘vent.’ This can rise to an increase in feedback so we recommend you take advice before drilling a hole!
+ Easy to put in/take out
+ Cosmetic Design
+ Good with spectacles
- High maintenance
- 'Blocked up' sensation
Care and maintenance of ITCs is more involved than with BTEs, and similar to what is required for a RIC device. The most important thing is to keep the instrument free from wax build up and as dry as possible – something which can be difficult, as all the components are now worn inside the canal. All ITCs will be manufactured with some form of wax guard in place, which will need to be inspected daily (or whenever the ITC is put in the ear) for any wax build up. Most wax guards can be replaced by the wearer, some people replace as frequently as once a week, others once every few months.
An advantage of ITC fittings over those of RIC and BTEs comes to the fore when people complain about having to wear spectacles as well as hearing aids. While most people do get used to wearing a BTE/RIE with their glasses, it can be troublesome for some and an ITC device does not of course interfere with the arms of ones glasses at all.
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