People who wear hearing aids know that a proper earmold or dome fit is critical for hearing performance and comfort. If an earmold or in-the-ear hearing aid doesn’t fit properly in a user’s ear, it can cause immense discomfort and prevent someone from fully experiencing all that a hearing aid has to offer.
When it comes to fitting hearing aids and earmolds, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s ear is different. Each of these molds are custom made, so a mold that was made for your friend almost certainly won’t work for you. The fitting of earmolds to smaller and distorted ear canals can be particularly challenging, however, so a hearing healthcare professional must take special steps and precautions to ensure a proper fit and proper functioning for the patient.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the process of fitting hearing aid earmolds and discuss why it can be tricky to fit these earmolds in small or distorted ear canals. To get us started, let’s look at the basics of earmolds and how they are affected by different types of hearing loss
Hearing Loss And Ear Molds
Everybody’s ears are different and so is their hearing loss. Although there are a multitude of causes to hearing loss, they generally present in one of two ways with the patient experiencing what is known as either a flat or a high-frequency hearing loss configuration.
People with high-frequency hearing loss configurations have difficulty hearing higher-frequency noises while people with flat hearing loss tend to have diminished hearing capabilities across the audiological frequency spectrum. It might seem like a minor difference, but whether or not someone has flat or high-frequency hearing loss will affect the fit of their hearing aid earmolds.
A patient with flat hearing loss will need an ear mold that provides some degree of occlusion of the ear canal while someone with high-frequency hearing loss requires their earmolds to vent a bit so that the low-tone signals can enter the ear unimpeded.
That being said, for many people, neither total venting nor total occlusion is ideal. Rather, a hearing healthcare professional must determine what degree of occlusion is best for a patient. Generally, when hearing loss at 1,000 Hz and below is greater than 30 dB, some venting can be useful but at this degree of loss and above, many people don’t experience issues with occlusion.
While these details will be worked out by a hearing healthcare professional during the hearing aid fitting process, it’s important to note that for people with tiny or distorted ear canals, this process can be a bit trickier.
Earmold Fitting Considerations For Small And Distorted Ear Canals
Regardless of the kind of hearing loss configuration that a patient experiences, the ideal earmold fit can be difficult to achieve if a patient has very small or distorted ear canals. For these patients, it can be very difficult to control the amount of feedback that a patient experiences due to the occlusion of the ear canal.
For people with smaller and distorted ear canals, these difficulties happen because these smaller ear canal volumes can cause higher frequency resonances that amplify feedback and make it more likely to occur. Moreover, it can be difficult for a small ear to properly retain an earmold, which means that the earmold is likely to cause leaks and increased feedback.
At the end of the day, fitting hearing aids earmolds to patients with small or distorted ear canals can be challenging. That being said, if you are concerned about getting the proper fit for your hearing aid earmolds, an experienced hearing healthcare professional will be able to guide and assist you throughout the process.
There are a number of different techniques available to hearing healthcare professionals so that they can find the perfect earmold fit, so it’s important to stay patient with the process and understand that some trial and error might be necessary before you find the fit that’s right for you.