Hey guys! So I ended my last entry on a kind of confusing note, and I promised an explanation later. Well, I checked my clock, and “later” has officially arrived.
So, what I said was that everything i had to do today (I got a lot done, thanks for wondering!) hurt more than pushing the cotton ball too far down the ear canal.
Okay, so here’s the lowdown. There are many types of hearing aids. The one you guys are probably most familiar with is called the “In the ear” hearing aid. It is a plastic, flesh colored device that molds to the ear. Those hearing aids only work for people who have hearing losses in the moderate range. The behind the ear hearing aid is also pretty common and it has a little more power. It works for gals like myself with more severe to profound hearing losses. Of course there are many other types, but for simplicity’s sake, and for the sake of my explanation, we’ll stick to these two for now.
Now, these hearing aids are molded to the ear by, you guessed it, a hearing aid mold. Each ear is unique, with it’s own folding patterns and ear canal lengths. For this reason, each person needs to get their very own mold made to help attach the hearing aid to the ear.
Here’s how it works.
The ear doctor, or to put it more eloquently, the audiologist, creates a mixture of a play-doh like substance that, in my experience is purple, but it can also be blue, green, yellow, pink…the works. Fun, huh? But before he or she can inject that sticky play doh into the ear, a small cotton ball with a string attached is inserted into the ear with a long pointy device. This cotton ball forces the “play doh” to stop at the end of the ear canal instead of continuing all the way down to the ear drum. This can hurt, especially if the cotton ball is pushed too far down the ear. (Have you ever shoved a Qtip too far down your ear? Yeah, that is what it feels like). So that was the pain I was referencing.
But since we’re having so much fun learning about casting ear molds, let us continue 🙂
So after the cotton ball is inserted, the play doh is injected into the ear and allowed to dry. After it has dried, the audiologist pulls out the solidified piece, which is the perfect map of the inside of your ear. The mold is then sent to big laboratories such as Microsonic or Emtech to be turned into a usable hearing aid mold!
There are many different types of molds you can get, three of which are shown above. The topmost one is a regular mold. The bottom left mold is one of the styles I use with my hearing aid. It is a mold solely of the ear canal. It is called, how fitting for the fourth of july, the patriot! The lower right one is called a skeleton, because the outline of the mold is the outline of your ear, but there is a chunk cut out to allow your ear to breathe a little more. I use the skeleton mold on my cochlear (tune in to the next entry to learn more about this mold and dancing)!
Ta-da! I hope I have cleared up your lingering confusion! And educated you some more about a vital part of the hearing aid world. 🙂