Hearing Loss and Ear Molds. Where would hearing aid users be without ear molds? Ear molds are the plastic devices that fit in the ear canals and connect to hearing aids via a plastic tube. People with hearing loss would not be able to use hearing aids without some type of ear mold. The molds come in different shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. They act like a seal around the outer ear which helps ensure those with hearing loss can wear hearing aids can hear well. To ensure those with hearing loss can hear with the use of hearing aids, the mold must be properly designed and fit the ear comfortably.
Whatever you may use is typically determined by the type of hearing aid you choose in conjunction with your audiologist’s recommendations. The ear mold process is simple. When being fitted for a new hearing aid, your audiologist will check your ears for ear wax. Every so often, there may be excess wax which the audiologist will remove prior to making an ear mold impression. This will ensure you have a good mold impression and a better fit to ensure you have the best ability to hear with your hearing aid.
Depending on the type of ear mold recommended for you, the audiologists will then likely put a gooey material into your ear canals using a gun style inserter. The material is left in your ears until it hardens, which does not take long! There is no pain or discomfort, you simply are asked not to move your mouth or speak during this time so as not to alter the impression. Once the material hardens, the audiologist will remove the formed mold and check your ear to ensure everything is clear and nothing left behind in your canal.
Once the impression is then used to make your ear mold(s). The molds are typically sent off to the manufacturer to complete and return to the audiologists. You might have to wait a week or more for your new molds depending on the turn around time from mailing and the time required to make the mold. You then return to the audiologist for a fitting and testing to ensure the mold works properly.
Most ear molds are made from acrylic which is durable, easy to repair, and easy to insert and remove from your ear. Additional materials which might be used are: Lucite, vinyl, or silicon. There are pros and cons for each type of material. If the more common acrylic molds don’t work you, your audiologist can try a different material. You will be guided based on your activity level, dexterity, and tolerance for the molds. Wearing molds takes a bit of getting used to and it is important they fit and work well for you (or you will not wear them!).
Fit is important. The mold needs to be tight to help avoid feedback or whistling sounds. But the mold should not be so tight as to be uncomfortable. You may find that tight-fitting molds make your voice sound tinny or artificial. In such cases, let your audiologist know as adjustments to your hearing aids can be made to correct this problem. If your molds are too loose, you may experience a whistling sound. If this happens, you may need further adjustments to your molds or your hearing aid.
It is important to take care of your ear molds and keep them clean of excess ear wax. Your audiologist will share how this is done to keep the ear mold clean and ensure the mold is not damaged. When purchasing new aids be sure to ask your audiologist about pricing and any costs associated with the ear mold. Knowing a little about ear molds can help you decide what is best for you!