If you or a family member have been looking for a hearing aid, you have probably come across receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids. RIC devices are related to the more common behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid, but they offer some benefits that BTE aids cannot. This article explores some of the main benefits and drawbacks of the receiver in canal hearing aid model.
Two standard types of hearing aid (behind-the-ear and in-the-ear) are designed to keep the device component all in one case (behind the ear and in the ear respectively). RIC hearing aids, on the other hand, separate the components into two major sections. A case behind the ear holds the aid’s amplifier and microphone, while a small bud that contains the receiver is used inside the ear canal. A small tube connects the receiver to the case.
There are several advantages associated with separating the receiver from the microphone and amplifier. Receiver in canal hearing aids are less likely to inundate listeners with feedback, and occlusion is generally less of a problem. With the ear canal open, wearers generally report a more natural sound which is judged to be more comfortable. RIC hearing aids are favored by people with mild to moderate hearing losses because they amplify high-pitched sounds very well.
The split configuration of the RIC has a few other advantages. Because it is split in two parts, this type of hearing aid is unobtrusive and easy to obscure. The small size of the case also makes it lightweight and comfortable to wear.
RIC devices do have several disadvantages. Compared to other types of hearing aids, RIC aids are particularly vulnerable to moisture in the ear, necessitating frequent repairs. Because they are so comfortable they are actually easier to lose: if you are not used to feeling them in your ear, you may not notice when they are gone. Compared to other hearing aid styles, receiver in canal designs are average to above average in cost.
Receiver-in-ear hearing aids do have their flaws, but their numerous advantages make them a worthwhile choice for many listeners. Consult your hearing specialist to learn more about RIC and other styles of hearing aids.