Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Have you heard...Dome tips

Often when someone imagines a hearing aid they think of the type in the picture below; beige in colour, obvious behind the ear, and filling the ear canal with the "plug" on the end, not to mention the endless whistling.

Hearing aid around 10 to 15 years old
Apart from its less then covert appearance the biggest draw back with this hearing aid is the large ear mould.
Firstly the taking of an ear mould can be an uncomfortable experience for some clients; whereby a foam block must be inserted deep into the ear canal, and the ear is filled with a quick setting gel.Secondly the ear mould will slowly discolour and need constant cleaning.

The most important factors however are occlusion and moisture; by blocking the ear the hearing loss will obviously increase and their voice will sound louder (just like it does if you place fingers in both ears) this is called the occlusion effect; whereby vibrations through the scull are transferred to the ear canal, and without an open pathway to escape reflect back into the hearing system, giving the experience of amplification.

Moisture is also an important factor when wearing a full mould such as this one. If the clients inserts their hearing aid first thing in the morning at 7am and removes it last thing at night at 10pm, they have had their ear blocked for 15 hours. Over 15 hours of being blocked the ear will produce a great deal of heat and moisture, possibly causing irritation, dermatitis, inflammation, wax build-up, and even infections.

Enter the Dome Tip. One of the most recent, and simplest innovations was the introduction of soft, generic dome tips like the one above; offering the free movement of air, moisture and sound in and out of the ear.

These tips have only been available since feedback cancellation technology came about. If a tip like this was placed on the hearing aid seen earlier it would simply whistle it's not so little head off. With the use of a feedback stopper function however this hearing aid will even struggle to whistle within a closed fist.

The benefits this type of hearing aid offer are quite simply the exact opposites to the drawbacks of earlier aids:

# Small discreet shell hidden by the pinna (outer ear)
# Disposable tips which cost literally pennies
# Better hygiene, easier to clean, and needed less frequently
# Does not exacerbate the hearing loss.
# More natural sound
# Comfortable

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