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Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are like hats – they go on your head, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. That comparison is a bit of a stretch, but still serves to introduce the topic of this article: Receiver-in-the-canal hearing aids, or RIC hearing aids for short.

If you’d like to know more about RIC hearing aids, you can always ask a qualified hearing healthcare professional in person. To do this – for free – you can fill out our quick and easy online form, and you’ll have an appointment arranged for you!

What are RIC hearing aids?

RIC hearing aids are exactly what they sound like – hearing aids with a sound receiver that wraps around the outer ear and is inserted into the ear canal. They’re a kind of behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid, but a more specific type of model.

To fully define RIC hearing aids, we’ll first need to go over BTE hearing aids. BTE hearing aids are the most common form of hearing aid – they’re widely considered to be the easiest hearing aids to use, and come with easily accessible battery ports (or even rechargeability).

RIC hearing aid

Since they’re bigger, they can also come with a few more features, like Bluetooth, tinnitus cancellers, or whatever other goodies you might need. Oftentimes you can also pick a color!

RIC hearing aid features

Other than standard BTE features, which are all discussed in our BTE hearing aid article, the big difference between RIC hearing aids and other options is the in-ear receiver. This receiver is a small squishy rubber attachment that is fed directly into the ear canal.

Hearing aid receivers are called “receivers” because they “receive” the sound from the hearing aid itself, and then project it into your ear. Yes, calling it a receiver when it actually gives sound to you is a bit backwards, but we don’t make the terms.

Since they project the sound, receivers are what govern the loudness of the sound coming from the hearing aid itself. With a BTE hearing aid, the receiver is fixed into the hard silicone mold, which means it is inextricable from the hearing aid itself.

However, with an RIC hearing aid, the receiver can be removed and replaced with little time or money lost. Since receivers govern the sound output, the possibility to remove and change receivers allows for a bit more flexibility in case the user’s level of hearing loss changes.

RIC hearing aids vs BTE hearing aids

So if you were given the choice between a normal BTE and an RIC hearing aid, what’s the best move? Well, the verdict is up to you, but it’s our job to present you with all the evidence we have.

Firstly, RIC hearing aids are often cited as being the more comfortable of the two, as the squishy receiver is considered a bit more comfortable than the firm silicon mold that comes with a BTE.

This pro comes with a con, however. Since the RIC receiver is a bit more malleable and gentle, it’s more susceptible to wear and tear, and might need to be replaced. This doesn’t take long at all – a simple visit to your hearing specialist and it’ll be swapped out immediately.

RIC hearing aid in use

A BTE hearing aid, like we mentioned, is far more durable and resistant to damage. The mold is tougher, and it’s not placed fully in the ear canal – meaning it’s less exposed to moisture and heat.

Once again, the strength here carries an inherent weakness. A hearing aid’s receiver governs the level of sound sent into the ear. Since the receiver mold is fixed to the hearing aid, if your hearing loss worsens throughout your usage of a BTE hearing aid, you won’t be able to change the receiver – you’ll have to get a brand new hearing aid.

So which is better? Like we said, the verdict is yours to make. RIC hearing aids are more comfortable and more discreet, but BTE is the better choice for someone with an active outdoor lifestyle, frequent ear infections, or an above-average aural moisture level.

RIC hearing aid costs

BTE hearing aids are generally more expensive than ITE hearing aids. Since RIC hearing aids are a kind of BTE hearing aid, RIC hearing aids are also on the pricier end of the spectrum. For more specific pricing estimates, as well as the rough costs behind your hearing aid, you can look at our page on hearing aid costs.

Overall

No type of hearing aid is better or worse than any other. They’re all chosen and specialized to the individual user’s needs. RIC hearing aids will run you a bit more cost-wise, but have more power and options.

But this choice shouldn’t make you panic! Choice is always a good thing, and you can be helped through it by a qualified hearing healthcare professional. If you follow this link and fill out our online form, you’ll be able to arrange a free consultation near you. There, you’ll be able to discuss hearing aid options in depth.

Duncan Lambden

Duncan Lambden

Writer

Duncan is an Australian-born American-raised creative writer with a passion for healthy ears. He continues to build upon his audiology qualifications with research and various courses. Duncan has been working alongside Florida-based audiologist Lindsey Banks, Au.D., to make sure that Everyday Hearing has the most up-to-date content.

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