There are plenty of reasons why some might try to avoid wearing a hearing aid.

Maybe walking around sporting their hearing aid in public makes them feel strange or alienated, as though people are constantly staring. Or perhaps they don't want their peers to know they're hearing impaired. Either way, they'd rather just deal with their condition in lieu of embarrassment.

Alternatively, they may find the vast majority of hearing assistance devices to be clunky and uncomfortable. It always feels like there's something on or in their ear that shouldn't be there. Again, the discomfort simply isn't worth it for them.

For both camps, there's an alternative to traditional hearing aids that may be worth a look.

Invisible hearing aids, so named because, well … they're as close to invisible as possible. Invisible hearing aids rest mostly or entirely within the ear canal, with most being almost entirely out of sight.

This gives them several noteworthy advantages when compared to traditional hearing aids—but also several drawbacks of which you should be aware.

The Benefits of Invisible Hearing Aids

1. Aesthetics of Invisible Hearing Aids

For most, this is the biggest draw of wearing an invisible hearing aid. Fitting entirely within the ear canal, they feature no tubes, wires, or bulky components. This makes them incredibly discrete. 

At best, someone might notice you're wearing one and assume it's an earbud or something similar. 

2. Natural Sound from Invisible Hearing Aids

Owing to their position within the ear—generally only a few millimeters from the tympanic membrane—invisible hearing aids have been reported by some to sound more 'natural' than other hearing assistance devices. On some level, this does make sense. Instead of being received via an external device and transmitting via a tube, sound travels through the ear canal before reaching the hearing aid. 

3. Comfort of Invisible Hearing Aids

Arguably the most common complaint we receive about traditional hearing aids is how difficult they make it to deal with certain day-to-day tasks, like wearing a hat or holding up a receiver to one's ear during a phone conversation. This isn't a problem for an invisible hearing aid.

The Drawbacks of Invisible Hearing Aids

1. Size Issues

The first, most obvious drawback of an invisible hearing aid is directly tied to its chief advantage. Because they're significantly smaller than most other hearing assistance devices, they tend to lack features like on-device controls. People who struggle with manual dexterity may also find invisible hearing aids difficult to manage and handle, and some models will likely be too small to fit in some people's ears. 

They also tend to have shorter battery life compared to larger models, and cheaper hearing aids may lack features like binaural coordination, Bluetooth connectivity, or rechargeable batteries. 

2. Cost of Invisible Hearing Aids

Generally, if you want to purchase an invisible hearing aid with all the same basic functionality as a traditional device, you're going to be paying a hefty premium. Miniaturization is expensive, after all. Especially when you're working with complex, highly-sensitive, fine-tuned electronics of the sort you find in most hearing aids.

Unless you're willing to accept an incredibly limited feature set, this means you're going to be shelling out a pretty penny for your hearing aids.

3. Potentially unsuited for Severe Hearing Loss

Hearing aid technology has come an incredibly long way since its early days. But we're still not quite at the point where an invisible hearing aid is as powerful as a high-end, full-sized device. What that means is that if you're suffering from severe or profound hearing impairment, an invisible hearing aid will likely be insufficient. 

Generally speaking, invisible hearing aids are best suited for mild to moderate hearing impairment, and start to fall off sharply in effectiveness after moving past that threshold.

Heard, Not Seen

Invisible hearing aids are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to keep their device away from prying eyes. They also tend to be both comfortable and convenient. Their small size, however, is simultaneously their greatest benefit and their biggest drawback—they're costlier than regular hearing aids and not well-suited for severe hearing loss.

If money is no object and your hearing loss isn't especially severe, an invisible hearing aid might be the perfect choice for you. At the end of the day, the best way to know for certain is to schedule an appointment with your audiologist.