Tuesday 10 May 2011

RIC overview, culled from Hearing aid Forums.

A Receiver In Canal hearing aid is typically a small capsule resting on the top of the ear, with a tiny plastic coated wire running from the capsule into the ear. The ear piece can be custom designed to the shape of the ear or can be a soft rubber fitting, often with holes around it to allow natural sound to get in (and escape).

So why should you want one?

1) They are usually a standard design, unlike a CIC or other custom product. So the components in the capsule are always placed in the same place in each device. This eliminates the problems associated with having to design each hearing aid to the shape of your ear. This should really help ensure greater longevity.

2) Good RIC hearing instruments have their power determined by the receiver (loudspeaker) placed in the ear. Therefore, should your hearing get worse, it should be possible to upgrade the power output considerably without buying a new hearing aids. New receivers should be a nominal cost and should be fitted by your hearing professional, without having to send your aids in for repair. So a good RIC can fit the most mild of losses, right up to an incredibly severe loss.

3) Because of their standard design, should the aids ever fail, your hearing professional should be able to easily arrange for you to have loaner hearing aids while your aid(s) are being repaired.

4) Because they are often a little bigger than a custom product in terms of component real estate they should be able to include tricks like Bluetooth compatibility, ear to ear communication, telecoil compatibility, media streaming, and remote control access.

5) They not only have the ability to adjust to perhaps one of the widest range of hearing losses of any style, but it should be possible to download new software on to them as improvements are made.

6) The increased space between microphones and receiver should, together with a sophisticated electronic filter, help make feedback issues a thing of the past. Issues of mechanical feedback where vibrations in the shell of a custom aid can cause problems is also not a problem thanks to this separation.

7) Many models are now available that are waterproof. Or at the very least far more water resistant than other styles of hearing aid. This should ensure greater longevity, and a more 'hardy' hearing aid.

8) If you somehow manage to get wax or other ear debris beyond the wax guard and damage the receiver, it should be easily replaced or repaired, by your hearing professional in his or her office, without needing to send them away.

9) The device should be very lightweight and comfortable if fitted properly.

10) Because the receiver is in the ear canal, the distance from the sound source, and your ear drum is small, so therefore less power is needed to provide sufficient help. Less power usually means less distortion.

11) Cosmetically, this is one of the most discrete hearing aids you can get. Especially if you have hair near your ears.

12) There is space for two microphones on most RIC hearing aids, and this in turn allows additional tricks to help you in a background noise, including directional amplification.

13) The thin tube that runs into the ear can be made incredibly small, and so is less of a hindrance to wearing glasses than a traditional BTE.

14) The amount of ear blockage on the smallest and most open fitting is perfect for typical noise induced or high frequency losses where the patient has good low frequency hearing and is susceptible to occlusion (blocked up sensation when wearing hearing aids).

15) The standard design usually ensures good access for programming cables for adjustments, if the aids cannot be wirelessly programmed.

Well that's all I have time for. 15 good reasons to consider a RIC.

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