Dr. Egan Explains the Anatomy of the RIC Hearing Aid
Hi, I’m Dr. Egan from Now Hear This and today I’d like to talk to you about the different parts and pieces of the most common type of hearing aid, the RIC. We get a lot of questions about this at our clinic and that’s why I want to go over this topic with you today. Often patients who call on the phone or come in to drop off their hearing aids for servicing will want to describe what’s happening to their hearing aid but have a difficult time describing the anatomy.
So, let’s go to the basics. This is a RIC hearing aid and I’ll explain why it’s called a RIC hearing aid a little later on. This is the most common type of hearing aid. The body of the hearing aid goes behind the ear, and then the tip goes inside the ear. This is the most common type of hearing aid because it’s the most versatile for most types of hearing loss. That’s not to say it’s the right fit for everyone, but it is the most common style that we tend to see and work successfully with patients.
So, this is the body of the hearing aid right here, and you’ll notice it has some notches on it. Those are the on-ear volume control, and they can be customized for each patient. So, some patients might struggle in the restaurant and it’s a restaurant program. Some people want it so that they can mute their hearing aid for loud sporting events. So, these buttons are very specialized for whatever that person’s specific listening needs are. The bottom of the hearing aid here will either have a battery door if it uses disposable batteries, or it will be encased like this because it is rechargeable.
After the body of the hearing aid, at the very top, there are little slits which are hard to see in this video, they’re right here, and here. Those little slits are actually the microphones of the hearing aid. They are what takes the sound in and calculates the difference between them to figure out where noise is coming from. These little microphones can get clogged, so we always show patients how to clean these so that dust, pollen, dander, you know, don’t build up in those very specialized microphones.
After the microphones, we have this receiver, or more commonly called, the wire. That is why this hearing aid is called a RIC. It is called a receiver-in-the-canal, meaning this receiver leads to a tip that goes in the ear canal, so that’s why this hearing aid is called a RIC. The receiver wire is the most fragile part of the hearing aid, so typically that is what we see wear out over time. And this can be changed easily in clinic if this ever malfunctions.
After the receiver wire, there is a rubber tip or dome that goes in the ear, and some people have a more severe hearing loss, so they will have a customized earpiece made to the shape of their ear to better trap in that sound. So, sometimes you will see a little rubber tip, sometimes you will see a more specialized custom earmold. Either of those can be placed on the end and that’s what goes in the ear canal.
Now, wax can get on this part here, and that’s another part we go over with all our patients is how to clean and keep this part free of wax, because if it gets clogged with wax, no sound can come out. So, just as we want to keep those microphones clean, so sound can come in, we also want to keep the end piece here clean so that sound can come out. We want the whole process to move through seamlessly.
So, those are the major components of the most common RIC hearing aid. I hope you learned something from this video, and of course, have a wonderful rest of your day!