A hearing loss diagnosis is understandably hard for those suffering from it and their loved ones who first noticed the signs and advocated for them to get tested and fitted with a hearing device. Still, finally getting a hearing aid makes the entire process rewarding, as it promises a better quality of life.
Hearing aids are not a one-size-fits-all solution. For the best fit and function, hearing aids need to be fitted according to the size and shape of your ears and programmed to support the degree of hearing loss you are experiencing. For certain types of hearing aids – this means that your hearing aid practitioner will need to take an impression of your ear and create custom earmoulds or custom hearing aids that fit snugly in your ear.
Learn what you can expect when getting an ear impression for your hearing aid here:
Why do I need an earmould for my hearing aid?
The main purpose of an earmould is to conduct sounds from your hearing aid into your ear. For optimal use, they need to be inserted properly and fitted to your ear’s size and shape to avoid falling out and interrupting listening. A well-fitting earmould also helps prevent feedback whistling from the hearing aid by preventing sound leakage.
Custom hearing aids are also made from an ear impression and are moulded to the shape of your ear. With this type of amplification, the entire hearing aid fits inside the custom earmould that is worn in the ear. Custom earmoulds and custom hearing aids come in a range of styles and colours to suit your preferences and make wearing hearing aids pleasant and comfortable.
Outside of hearing aids, custom earmoulds are also used to make other products such as; noise plugs, musicians earplugs, swim plugs and sleep plugs. Most commonly, custom earmoulds are used in noise protection. Acting as noise plugs, these earmoulds do a lot to prevent hearing loss among people living in cities like Edmonton, where they are constantly exposed to extremely loud environments, such as construction sites, sirens, and heavy transportation. These custom earmoulds are typically made of noise-cancelling materials that preserve the ability to hear important sounds at regulated volumes to prevent hearing damage.
How are custom earmoulds made?
As their name suggests, custom earmoulds are designed for you. They are made according to your ears’ exact shape and size to ensure a secure fit throughout day-to-day use. Custom earmoulds are made using an impression taken of your outer and inner ear.
Hearing healthcare providers use a wet and paste-like mixture to create the impression, which then solidifies according to the shape of your ear. These impressions are then sent to a laboratory where the earmoulds are created.
The custom earmoulds will be designed with accommodations for use with hearing aids, such as small holes drilled in them for inserting connective tubing that attaches the mould to the hearing aid. This allows the hearing device to detect sound and transmit it to the ear canal for effective hearing.
What are custom earmoulds made out of?
Manufacturers use various plastics and materials, like acrylic and silicone, to create earmoulds. Acrylic is known to be strong and damage-resistant, while silicone is flexible and provides better fit and comfort through the lifetime of the hearing aid.
What’s the best type of custom earmould?
The choice often comes down to your personal preference and lifestyle. Your hearing aid provider will fit you for the initial earmould design, and conduct tests to ensure a proper and secure fit and comfortable use. They may tweak the earmould a few times to arrive at the perfect fit and ensure lasting comfort and functionality with your hearing aid.
What should I expect when getting an ear mold impression?
Getting custom earmoulds is quite an involved process — it requires a number of steps that include an initial ear check-up and inspection, followed by the actual impression and finally being manufactured in time for use with your hearing aid. For many patients, the material can feel odd, but it’s a temporary discomfort that guarantees a secure fit and effective use of your hearing aids.
- Ear inspection
Your audiologist or hearing aid practitioner will first inspect your ears to ensure that they are clean and in good shape. They will remove any earwax build-up that can block the earmould and tubing, resulting in a less secure fit or false impression. Removing earwax also helps avoid puncturing your eardrum or scraping the inner ear while the impression is being taken.
- Inserting the otoblock
Once your ears are clean, your hearing healthcare provider will insert a device called the Otoblock into the ear canal. The Otoblock is designed to sit in front of the eardrum without touching it. It functions as a barrier between it and the impression material. Be prepared to feel a tickling or scratching sensation during the insertion, but it should not last long.
- Taking the impression
With the Otoblock safely in place, it’s time for the actual taking of the impression. Your hearing healthcare provider will put the impression material into your ear using a syringe or specialized gun.
The impression will start to set almost immediately, causing a little pressure and a tickling or scratching sensation. These sensations are all normal and brief and will ease up as soon as the impression material is removed.
- Wait for the impression to set
The impression material takes only a few minutes to fully set. During that time, it’s normal not to hear much around you as your ears are blocked. However, you may be asked to move your jaw to ensure that the impression fully molds according to the size and shape of your ears, and accommodates normal talking and listening while wearing your hearing aids.
- Removing the impression material
Once the impression has fully set, they will be removed and examined. First, the built-up pressure in the ear canal will be released to avoid popping the eardrum; then, it will be twisted and pulled out.
The hearing aid practitioner will then inspect the ear impression and make sure there are no flaws; if there are flaws, a new set of impressions will need to be taken. These impressions will be sent to the manufacturer to create your custom earmoulds, and once done, will be connected to your hearing aids.
To learn more about what to expect when getting ear impressions, call Living Sounds in Edmonton at 780-488-8100 or contact us here.