One of the most common causes of hearing loss is noise exposure. Over time, loud sounds can amage the sensory hair cells in the cochlea which do not grow back. This can occur in occupational (e.g. construction or factory settings) or recreational settings (e.g. music or shooting ranges). At Audiology and Speech Solutions, we work to provide you with custom earmolds designed to protect you from future or further noise damage.
How are custom earmolds made?
Custom earmolds are made from impressions of the ear canal and concha with a silicone-like substance. The impression is endorsed to a manufacturer where it will be made into a replica of the patient’s ears.
The process of making custom earmolds can be likened to how dental impressions are made. Taking ear impressions is generally painless. However, it may feel a bit odd for some individuals, as it has a sensation of having the ears filled with putty.
Types of Custom Earmolds
Custom earmolds are generally made from one of three materials – acrylic, silicone, or vinyl. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Acrylic earmolds are the traditional type of custom ear protection. Known to be hard and durable, acrylic earmolds are resistant to breakage and shrinking. They are also easy to repair and re-mold. However, since acrylic is made of hard material, it lacks flexibility and is not recommended for individuals with narrow ear canals.
Earmolds made of silicone are very soft and flexible, pretty much the opposite of acrylic earmolds. Silicone earmolds provide a tight seal for excellent protection and sound attenuation. Silicone earmolds are durable and can maintain their shape and size for a long period of time. Due to the softness of silicone earmolds, they can be tricky to insert and are not suitable for individuals with dexterity problems.
Made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl earmolds fall in the middle of acrylic earmolds and silicone earmolds in terms of softness. Vinyl earmolds are a suitable choice for children and older adults because of their ease of use. Vinyl earmolds also offer a good seal with clear sound for high-gain musical instruments.
One of the cons of vinyl earmolds is that they have the tendency to discolor, shrink or harden over time, imposing the need for regular replacement. People who have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies also need to have a patch test first before using vinyl earmolds because this type of ear protection is exposed to a saline solution during manufacturing.
Types of Custom Ear Plugs
Custom earplugs offer a customized fit and sound attenuation. Typically made of silicone, custom earplugs can serve as protection from loud sounds during hunting, swimming, sleeping, or going to live concerts.
How long do custom-made earplugs last?
Custom-molded earplugs made from silicone can last anywhere between three to five years (or more). The lifespan of custom ear protection will greatly depend on its usage and maintenance.
Types of Hearing Protection
Hearing protection is generally categorized into three types: earplugs, semi-insert earplugs, and earmuffs.
Earplugs can be moldable, pre-molded, custom-molded, or made of rolldown foam. Earplugs can be customized, disposable, or reusable.
These consist of two earplugs held over the ends by a rigid headband.
Earmuffs have outer cups that have a hard shell with soft ear cushions on the inside. The ear cushions are made of sound-attenuation materials.
Hearing Protection For All Lifestyles and Activities
Every day, we experience noise in our environment, such as the noise from the television, portable listening devices, household appliances, and traffic. If these sounds are at a safe level, they don’t damage our hearing. But sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting. These sounds can damage sensitive structures in the inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
There are various types of hearing protection on the market that can help lower the risks of hearing damage. However, for more specific purposes such as hunting, swimming, shooting, live performances, and more, custom ear protection is the ideal option.
Our audiologists at Audiology and Speech Solutions can help you choose the best custom ear protection so you can rest assured that your hearing is in good hands.
Audiology and Speech Solutions | Custom Ear Protection
Our purpose goes beyond providing better hearing; we want to help our patients prevent hearing loss and untimely hearing damage. Audiology and Speech Solutions offers custom ear protection to help keep your hearing healthy so you can get more out of life.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment!