One of the main criteria when choosing a hearing aid is its compactness and invisibility. Many people are vain, and fear that the devices will be visible and cause ridicule.
This is why Receiver in the Canal (RIC) technology models are rapidly gaining popularity around the world.
Americans are giving preference to hearing aids with domes!
Today the market provides a wide variety of hearing aid styles and designs. This allows audiologists to choose a device according to individual preferences and lifestyle. Such an approach makes everyday use of hearing aids as comfortable and discreet as possible. RIC / RITE models, or so-called hearing aids with domes, are perfect for the role of such a discreet assistant.
Today, more than 50% of Americans use RIC or RITE hearing aid devices. In RIC / RITE devices, the receiver is removed from the case, while it is connected to the case using the thinnest, inconspicuous wire. The receiver itself is located directly in the ear canal. Thanks to this unique design, the RIC / RITE hearing aid is unobtrusive and has unique acoustic capabilities.
Every hearing aid has a receiver. It converts the electrical signal from the amplifier into sound, which then goes to the ear. In standard BTE and ITE models, the receiver is built into the housing of the hearing aid. The body of the classic powerful and the especially super-powerful behind-the-ear system become rather large because of this.
The most important component of RIC / RITE models is the earmold, which directly affects the quality of hearing. Let’s consider this feature in detail.
Which dome is right for me?
A very important point should be noted right away – poor fitting weather it’s a dome or an earmold, impairs the performance of any good hearing aid. Why is this happening? The dome is an important element in the chain: RITE (or RIC) hearing aid – earmold/dome – patient’s ear – hearing. A problem in any part of this chain leads to a deterioration in the quality of perception of external sounds.
Hearing aid domes are small, bell-shaped, or mushroom-shaped silicone articles that are attached to the end of the hearing aid tube or wire. Their main task is to improve the performance of the device and properly fit in the ear canal.
Using earmolds or domes provides optimum sound quality with no feedback (whistling) and no occlusion. But you need to choose the right ones to get the best quality sound from hearing aids with domes. An experienced audiologist will help you with this.
All ear domes are divided into two main types:
Let’s take a look at each of them separately so that you can choose the option that suits you best.
Companies manufacture standard PVC or silicone hearing aid domes in large quantities. These earbuds have a standard shape and 5 basic sizes: from Xs (for children) to XL(for adults with a wide ear canal).
Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro has extensive experience in hearing aids. Our hearing care professional notes that the PVC dome is less preferred than the silicone one due to the structure of the material itself. The silicone dome is softer and adheres better to the walls of the ear canal, which reduces possible whistling of the device. Silicone earbuds are divided into 2 types:
Open-style dome. The product has several small holes along its entire length. Open dome hearing aids are well suited for people with high-frequency hearing loss.
Closed-style dome. This type has no holes and comes in single or double dome. Audiologists recommend closed-style domes for people with moderate to severe hearing loss.
The advantages of standard hearing aid domes are low price and a huge range of models. Besides, the standard domes are ideal for the same day fitting, as they can be quickly fitted.
When domes are not enough, Individual earmolds are recommended
A specialist who takes into account the degree of hearing loss and the anatomical features of the ear structure selects individual earmolds. They can be intracanal, intra-aural, or fill the entire auricle. Professionals can customize earmolds according to the individual needs of the patient, taking into account the curves of the ear canal, its width, and the model of hearing aid.
The individual earmold is made based on an impression of the outer ear, precisely matches it in shape, and therefore does not rub the ear. It’s a simple procedure, which will not cause pain. The last is very important when working with children. The doctor, using a special syringe, injects a soft impression material into the ear canal, similar to that used by dentists to make a dental impression. Until the impression material hardens.
The use of an anatomically contoured ear canal solution solves all the major problems that arise when using a standard dome. Namely:
Optimal sound level, due to the transmission of sound from the hearing aid to the eardrum
The problem of acoustic feedback (whistling) that occurs if the earmold does not seal the ear canal is eliminated
The problem of rubbing and irritation of the skin of the external auditory canal disappears
The possibility of allergic and inflammatory reactions in the external auditory canal is excluded with proper care of the earmolds
Removal of excess heat from the ear canal and ventilation
However, only a high-quality individual earmold fulfills all of the above functions! Therefore, in order to get the best results, make sure to visit an experienced professional.
Pros and cons of hearing aid domes
Hearing aids and domes complement each other perfectly. Thanks to these small products, millions of Americans live happy and stress-free lives. We have already covered the different types of domes. Let’s highlight their main advantages and disadvantages separately:
Best sounding (boosts sounds and frequency range) in various acoustic environments
Low cost and wide choice (standard type)
Simple cleaning and maintenance
Requires frequent replacement, every 2-3 months
Small size, which is inconvenient for people with disabilities
Earbuds play an important role in hearing aids sound comfort, so you need to pay attention to proper care at all times. You must clean them every time they change color or traces of wax are visible.
It should be noted that domes have a specific lifespan, after which they must be replaced. If the dome material has become rougher, discolored, or no longer adheres so tightly to the ear canal, these are the first signals to replace. In addition, the occurrence of pain, excessive pressure, or other uncomfortable sensations say that it is time to see an audiologist.
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]