Types of Earmolds for Hearing Aid – Skeleton | Custom: The realm of hearing aids is a diverse landscape with a myriad of options tailored to address the unique needs of individuals experiencing varying degrees of hearing impairment. At the heart of this diversity lie the essential components known as earmolds and earshells. These intricate pieces play a pivotal role in not only physically retaining hearing aids but also in transmitting amplified sound to the ear canal and managing the direct sound path from the ear canal to the external air. In this comprehensive article, we embark on a journey to understand the anatomy of the external ear, decipher the terminology associated with earmolds and earshells, and delve into the distinctive features, advantages, and drawbacks of various earmold types.
As we navigate through the intricacies of earmolds, we encounter a rich tapestry of styles such as skeleton earmolds, shell type earmolds, carved shell earmolds, and more. Each style presents a unique set of considerations, impacting factors like acoustic performance, comfort, and the secure retention of the hearing aid. The evolution of earmold styles, spurred by ongoing innovations, adds a dynamic dimension to the field. We also explore the landscape of earshells, examining In-the-Ear (ITE), In-the-Canal (ITC), and Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) devices. With electronic components snugly housed within the shell, we unravel the distinctions between Full Concha ITEs, Half Concha ITEs, Cymba Concha ITEs, ITCs, and CICs. This article aims to be a comprehensive guide for both individuals seeking optimal comfort and effectiveness in hearing aid use and professionals navigating the intricate world of hearing aid fittings.
Table of Contents
What is Earmolds and Earshell?
Various styles of earmolds and shells occupy distinct areas within the concha and the canal. The components of these molds and shells correspond to specific parts of the ear they accommodate. Let’s examine the terminology associated with different ear parts, as well as the earmold or earshell representations depicted in Figures.
Three terms are employed in the process of fitting hearing aids:
- Earmold, utilized for Behind-the-Ear (BTE) devices.
- Earshell, employed for In-the-Ear (ITE), In-the-Canal (ITC), or Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) devices.
- Pre-molded canal fitting, used for thin-tube or Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE) BTE devices.
A customized earmold or earshell is shaped to conform to the unique contours of a person’s ear, securely holding the hearing aid in place. Alternatively, pre-molded canal fittings, offered in various standard sizes and shapes, provide an alternative method for connecting the hearing aid to the ear canal.
The ear fitting serves three primary purposes:
- Physically retaining,
- Transmitting amplified sound to the ear canal, and
- Managing the direct sound path from the ear canal to the external air.
Earmolds and earshells come in diverse physical styles, differing in the coverage of the concha and canal. These style variations impact the hearing aid’s appearance, acoustic performance, comfort, and the secure retention of the device.
Earmolds for Hearing Aid
In the realm of hearing aids, the diversity of earmold options presents both a challenge and a wealth of choices for individuals seeking optimal comfort and effectiveness. The landscape of earmold styles lacks standardized nomenclature, with names often reflecting characteristics, inventors, or original applications. Since the establishment of some agreed-upon names by the American National Association of Earmold Laboratories in 1976, the field has witnessed the emergence of new styles, creating a dynamic environment. From the traditional standard earmold to innovative designs like the skeleton earmold, semi-skeleton earmold, shell type earmold, carved shell earmold, half shell type earmold, canal type earmold, and various pre-molded canal fittings, each presents a unique set of advantages and considerations for users. In this article, we delve into the distinctive features, advantages, and drawbacks of these earmold types, shedding light on their suitability for different degrees of hearing impairment and individual preferences.
Among the plethora of earmold options, custom earmolds stand out as individually crafted solutions designed to fit the unique contours of a person’s ear. Offering a personalized fit based on an ear canal impression, these earmolds ensure not only comfort but also enhanced sound quality and reduced feedback issues. This article explores the benefits of custom earmolds, highlighting their role in addressing the diverse needs and preferences of hearing aid users. From personalized fit and enhanced comfort to improved sound quality and adaptability to hearing changes, custom earmolds play a pivotal role in maximizing the effectiveness and satisfaction of individuals relying on hearing aids for improved auditory experiences.
Types of Earmolds for Hearing Aid
Describing various earmold styles poses a challenge due to the absence of standardized names. While the American National Association of Earmold Laboratories (NAEL) established some agreed-upon names in 1976, numerous new styles have emerged and been reintroduced since then. Certain earmolds are aptly named based on their characteristics (such as “skeleton”), while others bear the name of their inventor (like “Janssen”). Additionally, some earmolds are perplexingly named after their original application (e.g., CROS), even though they are more commonly used in different contexts.
The recipient mold, often referred to as a standard or regular mold (although it is infrequently utilized nowadays), is exclusively suitable for a body aid. A button receiver securely attaches to the ring on the mold’s surface. Alternatively, it can be employed for a BTE aid by affixing a plastic angle piece to the ring.
A section of tubing links the angle piece to the earhook of the hearing aid. Despite its convenience in tubing replacement, the recipient mold poses drawbacks (sound leakage, aesthetics, and potential reduction in high-frequency response) that outweigh its advantages for BTE use.
Skeleton earmolds comprise the ear canal section of the mold, inserted into the external ear canal of the child, and a retention ring that encircles the outer perimeter of the concha bowl of the ear. Typically, these molds are designed for children experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss, with occasional success in fitting children with moderately severe losses.
Advantages of Skeleton Earmold:
- Typically, they offer great comfort as the concha bowl of the ear remains exposed to air, preventing the sensation of fullness that can be caused by other types of molds.
- They decrease the likelihood of moisture accumulation or irritation in the mold, thanks to the effective aeration of the outer ear.
- They can be crafted from various mold materials and are adaptable to most ear shapes and sizes. Suitable for use with mild to severe hearing loss.
Disadvantages of Skeleton Earmold:
- Encourages feedback
- May break during removal or insertion of the mold, especially if the ears are very small, leading to a weak mold due to a thin or fine retention ring in the concha bowl.
- The framework comprises a canal and a slender frame around the ear bowl.
- Subtle and inconspicuous design
In cases where complete retention is unnecessary, particularly when the ear canal has a convex shape, this style of ear mold is employed. Suitable for individuals experiencing mild to severe hearing impairments, this mold adapts to the unique contours of the ear. Its design allows for a secure fit without the need for full retention, offering comfort and effectiveness for a range of hearing needs.
Shell type Earmold
This earmold design features a complete canal and a slender shell enveloping the ear bowl, with or without the helix. Primarily employed for fitting high-gain ear-level hearing aids in cases of moderate to profound hearing loss, it proves particularly advantageous for children. Widely embraced, this earmold type is renowned for its lightweight construction, ensuring a comfortable and unobtrusive user experience. Its popularity stems from its efficacy in accommodating significant hearing impairments while offering a snug fit, making it an excellent choice for individuals requiring robust hearing assistance.
Carved Shell Earmold
A Carved shell earmold comprises the ear canal segment and the concha bowl, completely enveloped in the ear mold material. To enhance both aesthetics and acoustic sealing, the concha bowl section of the mold is delicately shaped, creating a slightly concave outer surface. These molds are suitable for fitting to any child.
Advantages of Carved Shell Earmold:
- They can be crafted from various materials and adapted to fit any size or shape of the ear canal.
- They are frequently the favored option for very young children due to their snug fit and effective feedback inhibition.
- They are generally easy to fit and insert, making them a suitable choice for young children.
- Using carved shell molds poses no notable drawbacks.
Half Shell type Earmold
When complete retention is unnecessary, or when the ear bowl has a convex shape, this particular ear mold is employed. Suitable for individuals experiencing mild to severe hearing losses, this type of mold accommodates cases where a snug fit is not imperative, offering a flexible solution for various degrees of hearing impairment.
Canal type Earmold
It features a complete canal and a slender shell enveloping the ear bowl, with or without the helix. This type is employed in cases of moderate to profound hearing loss when fitting very high-gain ear-level hearing aids. Particularly suitable for children, it stands out as one of the most commonly utilized earmold types. Its lightweight design enhances comfort during use.
Pre-molded canal fitting: Open, Closed and Tulip Earmolds
The Figure illustrates the commonly utilized fittings, which include pre-molded, dome-shaped canal fittings and thin sound-bore tubing. These fittings feature a soft, flexible flange or flanges and are available in various diameters and tubing lengths.
There are essentially two styles: the open dome, with holes in the flange designed to keep the canal as open as possible, and the closed dome, with no holes intended to seal the canal completely. Due to the fitting being entirely enclosed within the ear canal, especially when paired with thin tubing and small BTE hearing aids, both the open and closed dome styles, along with the very similar tulip style, contribute to a discreet overall appearance.
The same designs apply to RITE or RIC hearing aids, with the central part of the dome housing the receiver encased in plastic, resulting in a sound bore of only 1 or 2 mm. For RITE hearing aids, the thin tube from the device is replaced by an equally thin electrical connection to the receiver, maintaining an inconspicuous look.
A notable advantage of dome and tulip fittings is that they eliminate the need for an ear impression, facilitating same-day fitting.
It is crucial to select the correct dome size and tubing length:
1. If the dome is too large, discomfort may occur.
2. If too small, the fitting may fall out or cause itching as it moves.
3. Inappropriate tubing length can lead to discomfort behind the ear or within the ear canal.
Open dome fittings serve the same acoustic function as the sleeve mold and vented hollow canal mold, largely surpassing them in popularity, although the latter two designs may still find relevance in certain cases.
Custom Earmolds for Hearing Aids
Custom earmolds for hearing aids are individually crafted earpieces that are designed to fit the unique shape of a person’s ear. These earmolds provide a comfortable and secure fit for hearing aids, ensuring optimal performance and sound quality. Here are some key points about custom earmolds for hearing aids:
Custom earmolds are created based on an impression of the individual’s ear canal. This ensures a snug and personalized fit, which is essential for comfort and effective sound transmission.
The customized fit of earmolds reduces discomfort and irritation often associated with generic, one-size-fits-all solutions. This is particularly important for individuals who wear hearing aids for extended periods.
Improved Sound Quality
The precision fit of custom earmolds helps to seal the ear canal, preventing sound leakage and improving the efficiency of the hearing aid. This can lead to better sound quality and clarity.
Custom earmolds can help minimize issues such as feedback or whistling that may occur with poorly fitting hearing aids. A proper seal prevents sound from escaping and causing interference.
Various Materials and Styles
Earmolds can be crafted from different materials to cater to individual preferences and sensitivities. Additionally, various styles are available, including full-shell, half-shell, and canal earmolds, depending on the user’s needs.
Color and Aesthetics
Users can choose the color and appearance of their custom earmolds. Some may prefer a discreet and flesh-toned design, while others may opt for vibrant colors or patterns.
The process of obtaining custom earmolds involves taking a professional impression of the ear canal. This is typically done by an audiologist or hearing care professional to ensure accuracy.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Custom earmolds require regular cleaning to prevent wax buildup and maintain optimal performance. Audiologists often provide guidance on proper care to extend the lifespan of the earmolds.
Adaptability to Hearing Changes
As hearing needs change over time, custom earmolds can be adjusted or replaced to accommodate these changes, ensuring ongoing comfort and effectiveness.
Overall, custom earmolds play a crucial role in maximizing the benefits of hearing aids, offering a tailored solution that addresses the specific needs and comfort of the individual wearer.
Earshells for Hearing Aid
Explore the diverse world of hearing aid shells in this informative article, delving into the intricacies of In-The-Ear (ITE), In-The-Canal (ITC), and Completely-In-Canal (CIC) devices. With the electronic components snugly housed within the shell, options for alternative designs are examined within each category. Uncover the distinctions between Full Concha ITEs, Half Concha ITEs, and Cymba Concha ITEs, each tailored to unique anatomical contours. Discover the subtleties of mini-canal ITCs, extending along the posterior medial wall of the tragus, and gain insights into the axial and lateral perspectives crucial for understanding these innovative hearing aid solutions.
Types of Earshells for Hearing Aid
Because the electronics of the hearing aid are inside the shell for an ITE, ITC, or CIC hearing aid, there are fewer possibilities for alternative shell styles within each of these classes of hearing aids.
- Full Concha: ITE hearing aids that extend above the crus-helias are classified as Full Concha ITEs
- Half Concha: Those that are fully contained below the crus-helias are referred to as Half Concha ITEs, and
- Cymba Concha: Those that fit entirely above the crus-Helias could be called Cymba Concha ITEs.
- ITC: That extend only part of the way along the posteriormedial wall of the tragus are sometimes referred to as mini-canal hearing aids
Hearing aids categorized as mini-canal ITCs are designed to extend only a portion of the way along the posterior medial wall of the tragus. These devices, known as mini-canal hearing aids, can be considered as low-profile in-the-canal (ITC) options. To understand the differences between in-the-ear (ITE) aids, low-profile ITEs, ITCs, completely-in-canal (CICs), and deeply seated (long-wear) CICs, the most effective perspective is an axial section through the ear, illustrated in the figure. Although they are too new to have developed a terminology. These differences are best seen from a lateral view, as shown in Figure.
An additional crucial factor to contemplate is the earmold’s composition material. Typically, softer materials like silicone and vinyl are employed for hearing losses surpassing 75 dB HL. The table delineates the key earmold materials and their respective performance benefits.
Procedure for Selecting Earmold and Earshell
Structured protocols exist for assessing the optimal openness of an earmold for an individual hearing aid user, as detailed in the ‘Procedure for Selecting Earmold and Earshell‘ article. However, the process becomes less straightforward when faced with choosing between molds that primarily vary in visual aesthetics, durability, and retention capabilities. Determining the most suitable earmold in such cases lacks a clear, systematic approach.
Ear Impression Techniques for Earmolds and Earshells
While this article begins by discussing earmold and earshell varieties, it’s essential to emphasize that the creation of earmolds or earshells necessitates the initial step of obtaining an impression. Therefore, please explore the content of the article titled “Ear Impression Techniques for Earmolds and Earshells,” which outlines methods and materials for producing accurate impressions.
Conclusion: Types of Earmolds for Hearing Aid – Skeleton | Custom
In conclusion, the world of earmolds and earshells for hearing aids is diverse and dynamic, offering a wide array of options to cater to the unique needs and preferences of individuals with varying degrees of hearing impairment. From traditional standard earmolds to innovative designs like skeleton earmolds, shell type earmolds, carved shell earmolds, and more, each type presents a distinct set of advantages and considerations. The article highlights the importance of personalized fits provided by custom earmolds, ensuring not only comfort but also enhanced sound quality and reduced feedback issues. It delves into the nuances of different earmold types, shedding light on their suitability for specific hearing aid devices and individual preferences.
Moreover, the exploration extends to earshells, covering In-The-Ear (ITE), In-The-Canal (ITC), and Completely-In-Canal (CIC) devices. The intricate details of Full Concha ITEs, Half Concha ITEs, Cymba Concha ITEs, ITCs, and CICs are discussed, providing insights into the anatomical considerations and alternative designs within each category. The article concludes by acknowledging the challenges in selecting earmolds based on visual aesthetics, durability, and retention capabilities, emphasizing the importance of structured protocols for optimal openness. Additionally, it underscores the crucial initial step of obtaining accurate ear impressions for the creation of earmolds and earshells, directing readers to explore the detailed content on “Ear Impression Techniques for Earmolds and Earshells.” Overall, this comprehensive exploration enhances understanding and guides individuals in making informed decisions about the most suitable hearing aid solutions for their unique circumstances.
FAQs about Types of Earmolds for Hearing Aid – Skeleton | Custom
1. What is an earmold?
An earmold is a custom-designed earpiece that conforms to the unique contours of an individual’s ear. It serves as an integral component in hearing aid devices, providing a secure fit, transmitting amplified sound to the ear canal, and managing the direct sound path from the ear canal to the external air. Earmolds are commonly used for Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids.
2. How do I change earmold tubing?
To change earmold tubing, follow these steps:
- Remove the existing tubing by gently pulling it away from the earmold and hearing aid.
- Cut a new piece of tubing to the appropriate length.
- Insert one end of the tubing into the earmold, ensuring a snug fit.
- Connect the other end of the tubing to the earhook of the hearing aid.
- Ensure proper alignment and secure attachment to prevent sound leakage and maintain optimal hearing aid performance.
3. How do I clean earmolds for hearing aids?
To clean earmolds for hearing aids:
- Use a mild soap and water solution to clean the earmold surface.
- Gently scrub with a soft brush or cloth to remove wax and debris.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals or alcohol, as they may damage the earmold material.
- Ensure thorough drying before reinserting the earmold into the ear.
- Regular cleaning helps prevent wax buildup, ensures hygiene, and maintains the effectiveness of the hearing aid.
4. How are earmolds for hearing aids made?
Earmolds for hearing aids are made through a personalized process:
- A professional takes an impression of the individual’s ear canal.
- The impression is used to create a customized earmold that fits the unique contours of the ear.
- Materials such as silicone or acrylic may be used to craft the earmold.
- The final product ensures a personalized fit, enhanced comfort, and improved sound quality.
5. How do I retube an earmold?
To retube an earmold, follow these steps:
- Remove the existing tubing carefully to avoid damaging the earmold.
- Clean the earmold surface and earhook thoroughly.
- Cut a new piece of tubing to the appropriate length.
- Insert one end of the tubing into the earmold and ensure a secure fit.
- Connect the other end of the tubing to the earhook of the hearing aid.
- Confirm proper alignment and attachment for optimal hearing aid performance.
- Hearing Aids – Harvey Dillon (Book)
- Essentials of Audiology – Stanley A. Gelfand, PhD (Book)