A receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid has an open-fit design similar to a behind-the-ear style.
Instead of a tube, a thin receiver wire goes from the main part of the device over the outer ear and into the ear canal. Some patients find this type of hearing aid more comfortable than other styles since a soft tip rests inside of the ear without completely sealing it.
If you are considering an RIC hearing aid, an audiologist can perform a thorough evaluation to determine if you would likely benefit from this option.
Assessing Your Hearing Loss
Receiver-in-canal hearing aids can improve hearing for individuals with hearing loss that ranges from mild to moderately severe. In order to determine how much you may benefit from this type of hearing aid, an audiologist will perform a series of hearing tests. These assessments typically involve identifying different frequencies and tones (audiometry testing), checking middle ear functions, and speech testing. You may also be evaluated for:
- Diseases that could affect your hearing
- Underlying health conditions
- Hearing capabilities in different sound environments
Discussing Your Lifestyle and Personal Preferences
Whether or not a wearer will benefit from an RIC hearing aid is largely dependent on lifestyle habits and style preferences. For instance, if you have concerns about being distracted by sounds of your own voice when having conversations or making chewing motions, you’ll appreciate that RIC devices minimize such noises since the ear canal isn’t fully blocked.
If you are normally active outdoors, however, you’ll need to be cautious with outdoor environments or activities involving water exposure. The receiver end is vulnerable to moisture in the ear’s canal, although precautions can be taken to minimize such issues. And if you are normally in situations where there will be multiple conversations and background sounds, you might have some trouble pinpointing the direction of sound in front of or behind you. Some natural acoustics are lost with RIC hearing aids.
Since receiver-in-canal models are more discrete than completely-in-canal (CIC) and custom invisible-in-canal (TIC) styles, it will be easier to conceal your hearing aid(s) if this is a top priority for you. It’s estimated that more than half of all patients in need of a hearing aid are good candidates for an RIC device. If these hearing aids generally fit your lifestyle habits and wearing preferences and you have good manual dexterity with smaller objects, you’ll likely benefit from a receiver-in-canal hearing aid.
Setting Up Your RIC Hearing Aid
Once you’ve selected an RIC hearing aid as your preference, the last step in the hearing aid evaluation process is to pick a specific design and technology level. Settings will be adjusted by an audiologist with special software based on your hearing test results.
With a receiver-in-canal hearing aid, there are wireless options and accessories that can be added to your device for further personalization. Newer models also have receiver levels that can be adjusted if your hearing loss changes over time. Hearing aids like this are self-adjusting to some extent with volume and other basic settings. However, you’ll also benefit from follow-up visits to an audiology clinic to determine how well an RIC hearing device is improving your quality of life after you’ve had a chance to use it in your normal surroundings.