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Receiver in canal hearing aids: pros, cons and reviews

calendar-icon Last Updated on 4 February 2020 clock-icon 11 Min Read
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Key Points
  • Receiver-in-canal (or RIC) hearing aids are suitable for mild to severe hearing loss.
  • The receiver sits in the ear and is connected to the amplifier by a small wire, making RIC hearing aids a good compact choice.
  • The downside of RIC hearing aids is that they can be difficult to use with phones and may be susceptible to damage from earwax.

What is a Receiver in Canal Hearing Aid?

A Receiver in Canal hearing aid, also known as RIC, is made up of two main components: the electronics casing and the receiver. The electronics casing houses the amplifier and the microphone, and it sits behind the ear as with a traditional hearing aid.

However, the speaker (called the receiver) sits in the ear, connected to the casing by a small wire. The receiver is inside an ear mould or ear tip, which can be custom fitted to your ear shape.

RIC hearing aids are sometimes called open-fit hearing aids. Their comfort makes them one of the most popular types of hearing aids available, but their effectiveness can vary depending on your level of hearing loss.

Pros of a RIC Hearing Aid

Receiver in canal hearing aids are an excellent choice for people who are wearing hearing aids for the first time. They’re relatively easy to fit and don’t have the same high-pitched whistle that can occur with BTE hearing aids. Here are some of the advantages of a RIC hearing aid:

  • Open fit. Sound can pass into the ear unobstructed, which means you won’t get an echo effect.
  • Custom fit for comfort. Unlike some other hearing aids, users often say they don’t feel the RIC hearing aid after they put it on.
  • Easy maintenance. RIC hearing aids are easy to maintain at home, and parts are simple to replace.
  • Adaptable. Special versions are available made to work with iPhones and Androids for ease of use, or with wireless Bluetooth options.
  • Reduced feedback. Distance between the microphone and receiver cuts down on irritating feedback.
  • Small size: Not the smallest on the market, but still subtle and smaller than the BTE style.
  • Easy to find: Most manufacturers carry RIC devices.

Cons of a RIC Hearing Aid

Like any type of hearing aid, there are downsides to the RIC device. Here are some of the cons of a RIC hearing aid:

  • Less powerful than BTEs. Because they are smaller, RIC hearing aids are inevitably less effective than behind-the-ear devices.
  • Susceptible to moisture damage. The in-the-ear component can be affected by moisture and earwax found in the ear canal if not properly maintained by the user.
  • Smaller size can be challenging. Smaller controls can be hard to use for people with less dexterity.
  • Not good for people with ear canal problems. If you have had a perforated eardrum or related operation, your doctor may not recommend this type of hearing aid.
  • May be hard to use with mobile phone. If you don’t have a RIC that has been modified for mobiles, a RIC hearing aid can get in the way of mobile phone use.

Receiver in the Canal Hearing Aids Reviews

RIC hearing aids consistently receive positive reviews across the board and are held up as one of the most popular hearing aid types for good reason. Wearers report that the devices are easy to clean at home and comfortable to wear. Sound quality is generally considered to be natural with less feedback.

If you are looking for a discreet, yet effective hearing aid type, the receiver in canal may be a good choice for you. Ask your audiologist for advice on which brand would be a good fit.

Other Types of Hearing Aids

Aside from RIC hearing aids, there are five other common options in Australia, so hearing aid wearers have a range to choose from.

Behind the Ear (BTE)

Mild to severe hearing loss

This is what many people think of when they think of hearing aids. The mechanics (receiver, amplifier, and microphone) are all contained in a casing that sits behind the ear. Sound travels through a tube into an ear mould, which is fitted to your ear canal.

It’s the most powerful type of hearing aid, and its larger size can make it easier to manage. However, it is not as inconspicuous as other types of hearing aid. Read more about BTE hearing aids here.

Mini Behind the Ear (mini BTE)

Mild to moderate hearing loss

Just as its name suggests, the mini behind the ear is a smaller version of the BTE. Sound travels through a thin plastic tube to a soft tip in the ear, and it is considered an ‘open fit’ hearing aid. For some, that means a more comfortable fit. On the other hand, the smaller size means smaller controls, which can be a downside. Read more about mini BTE hearing aids here.

In the Ear (ITE) / In the Canal (ITC)

Mild to moderately severe hearing loss

These hearing aids are custom fit to be comfortably worn in the bowl of your ear. They are smaller than BTE and RIC types of hearing aids, but are still not the smallest option. ITE style hearing aids tend to be larger and more powerful than ITCs. These are not good for people who suffer from ear infections, and can be damaged by ear wax and moisture. Read more about In the Ear hearing aids here.

Completely in the Ear Canal (CIC)

Mild to moderate hearing loss

These hearing aids are worn completely in the canal, and they are the smallest type of hearing aid. When worn properly, they are not visible to the naked eye. They are inserted into your ear canal with a tiny line that extends outside of the canal. While they function well with telephones and are comfortable to wear, they can be difficult to remove and re-insert. Read more about Completely in the Ear Canal hearing aids here.

CROS

Serious one-sided hearing loss

CROS hearing aids are designed for people with hearing loss in one ear only. Sound is transmitted from the ear with hearing loss to a receiver on the other ear, to better support the brain’s ability to process sound. Wearers will need to get used to the way the sound moves, and will have to wear a device on each ear.

Shopping for a RIC Hearing Aid

There are a number of hearing aid brands that make RIC devices, so it is worth comparing prices and taking advantage of any trial periods on offer. Finding the best hearing aid is a personal choice, dependent on your level of hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your ear.

Visit Hearing Aid Comparison to connect with an audiologist near you for your free hearing test and professional recommendation.


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