The Pros and Cons

An RIC-style hearing aid may be the right choice for you, but you might also end up hating it. We'll help you decide for sure with this quick guide.

Although every hearing aid ultimately serves the same purpose, to say that there's an overwhelming amount of variety would be putting it lightly. Not only are there a ton of different brands and manufacturers, but there are also multiple different styles of hearing aid. 

The first step to overcoming that confusion is understanding the different types of hearing aid. We'll start with Receiver-in-Canal (RIC).   

 

What is a RIC Hearing Aid?

To understand what a RIC hearing aid is and how it works, we'll first need to explain behind-the-ear hearing aids. As one of the most common types of hearing assistance devices on the market, a BTE hearing aid's main body hooks around the back/top of the ear. 

This body contains all the hearing aid components, including a microphone, an amplifier, and a receiver. Amplified sound is transmitted by the receiver through a small, thin plastic tube into an earpiece, typically either a custom-fitted earmold or a non-custom dome (similar to the rubber bit on a pair of earbuds). BTE hearing aids are typically larger than other models, and as such many offer extra features such as tinnitus relief. 

A RIC hearing aid sits behind the ear in the same fashion as a BTE hearing aid. However, the RIC hearing aid's body only contains a microphone and amplifier. The receiver is placed inside the hearing aid's dome or earmold and connected to the hearing aid's body via an electrical wire.

 

What Are the Advantages of a RIC Hearing Aid?

First and foremost, RIC hearing aids tend to sound more natural than a typical BTE hearing aid.  They're also less prone to feedback and occlusion. RIC hearing aids have also been found to more effectively amplify high-frequency noise, making them an ideal choice for anyone with mild to moderate hearing loss. 

The above characteristics are likely all due to the fact that the sound in a RIC hearing aid is transmitted directly into the ear canal rather than fed through the tubing.

Though your own experience may vary, RIC hearing aids are typically more comfortable than many other hearing aid styles. Because the hearing aid's components are split between the earmold and the main body, they're smaller than traditional hearing aid models, and less noticeable as a result. Some users have also found the earmold/dome of RIC hearing aids to be more comfortable.

 

What Are the Drawbacks of a RIC Hearing Aid?

No hearing aid is perfect — if there were a model without any flaws or drawbacks, you wouldn't be reading an article like this. 

The most significant disadvantage of a RIC hearing aid is that its receiver is highly susceptible to moisture and heat. This means that RIC hearing aids are ill-suited for exercise. Wearing one on a jog could well end with you needing to purchase a new receiver ― though once the receiver has been purchased, it's mercifully easy to replace. 

Another drawback is that because RIC hearing aids are less obtrusive than other models, it's more difficult to notice if you've lost yours. They're easy to lose track of and easy to misplace. If you're the absent-minded sort, this may make the RIC design a poor choice.

Finally, RIC hearing aids tend to be more expensive than comparable BTE models. All other things being equal, miniaturization always increases the price of electronics. If you don't have health insurance that covers the cost of hearing assistance devices, that could mean this is easily the dealbreaker.  

 

Should I Purchase a RIC or BTE Hearing Aid? 

Ultimately, it's a question of lifestyle and preference. Neither hearing aid is objectively better than the other. A BTE hearing aid may be a better option if you enjoy physical activity or the outdoors. You may also want to avoid RIC hearing aids if you suffer from frequent ear infections or a high level of moisture in the ear. 

If you frequently socialize and engage in public speaking, on the other hand, you may want to choose a RIC model. Similarly, if you're sensitive about having to wear a hearing aid, RIC devices are easier to hide. And it's worth mentioning that individual components of a RIC hearing aid are easier to replace than those in a BTE hearing aid. 

Beyond the above, you can also check out different hearing aid accessories. If you have any further questions about the type of hearing aid that's right for you, we'd recommend speaking with your audiologist or hearing specialist. They can guide you through next steps. And if you aren't already connected with one, an appointment with one of our trusted audiologists can help with that.

The Pros and Cons

An RIC-style hearing aid may be the right choice for you, but you might also end up hating it. We'll help you decide for sure with this quick guide.

Although every hearing aid ultimately serves the same purpose, to say that there's an overwhelming amount of variety would be putting it lightly. Not only are there a ton of different brands and manufacturers, but there are also multiple different styles of hearing aid. 

The first step to overcoming that confusion is understanding the different types of hearing aid. We'll start with Receiver-in-Canal (RIC).   

 

What is a RIC Hearing Aid?

To understand what a RIC hearing aid is and how it works, we'll first need to explain behind-the-ear hearing aids. As one of the most common types of hearing assistance devices on the market, a BTE hearing aid's main body hooks around the back/top of the ear. 

This body contains all the hearing aid components, including a microphone, an amplifier, and a receiver. Amplified sound is transmitted by the receiver through a small, thin plastic tube into an earpiece, typically either a custom-fitted earmold or a non-custom dome (similar to the rubber bit on a pair of earbuds). BTE hearing aids are typically larger than other models, and as such many offer extra features such as tinnitus relief. 

A RIC hearing aid sits behind the ear in the same fashion as a BTE hearing aid. However, the RIC hearing aid's body only contains a microphone and amplifier. The receiver is placed inside the hearing aid's dome or earmold and connected to the hearing aid's body via an electrical wire.

 

What Are the Advantages of a RIC Hearing Aid?

First and foremost, RIC hearing aids tend to sound more natural than a typical BTE hearing aid.  They're also less prone to feedback and occlusion. RIC hearing aids have also been found to more effectively amplify high-frequency noise, making them an ideal choice for anyone with mild to moderate hearing loss. 

The above characteristics are likely all due to the fact that the sound in a RIC hearing aid is transmitted directly into the ear canal rather than fed through the tubing.

Though your own experience may vary, RIC hearing aids are typically more comfortable than many other hearing aid styles. Because the hearing aid's components are split between the earmold and the main body, they're smaller than traditional hearing aid models, and less noticeable as a result. Some users have also found the earmold/dome of RIC hearing aids to be more comfortable.

 

What Are the Drawbacks of a RIC Hearing Aid?

No hearing aid is perfect — if there were a model without any flaws or drawbacks, you wouldn't be reading an article like this. 

The most significant disadvantage of a RIC hearing aid is that its receiver is highly susceptible to moisture and heat. This means that RIC hearing aids are ill-suited for exercise. Wearing one on a jog could well end with you needing to purchase a new receiver ― though once the receiver has been purchased, it's mercifully easy to replace. 

Another drawback is that because RIC hearing aids are less obtrusive than other models, it's more difficult to notice if you've lost yours. They're easy to lose track of and easy to misplace. If you're the absent-minded sort, this may make the RIC design a poor choice.

Finally, RIC hearing aids tend to be more expensive than comparable BTE models. All other things being equal, miniaturization always increases the price of electronics. If you don't have health insurance that covers the cost of hearing assistance devices, that could mean this is easily the dealbreaker.  

 

Should I Purchase a RIC or BTE Hearing Aid? 

Ultimately, it's a question of lifestyle and preference. Neither hearing aid is objectively better than the other. A BTE hearing aid may be a better option if you enjoy physical activity or the outdoors. You may also want to avoid RIC hearing aids if you suffer from frequent ear infections or a high level of moisture in the ear. 

If you frequently socialize and engage in public speaking, on the other hand, you may want to choose a RIC model. Similarly, if you're sensitive about having to wear a hearing aid, RIC devices are easier to hide. And it's worth mentioning that individual components of a RIC hearing aid are easier to replace than those in a BTE hearing aid. 

Beyond the above, you can also check out different hearing aid accessories. If you have any further questions about the type of hearing aid that's right for you, we'd recommend speaking with your audiologist or hearing specialist. They can guide you through next steps. And if you aren't already connected with one, an appointment with one of our trusted audiologists can help with that.

  

  

  

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