An earmould is a custom-made piece of soft or hard plastic that fits the ear exactly and is used with Over the Ear hearing aids. It's an important part of the hearing aid because it holds the tubing in the right place, to direct sound down the ear canal.
How long do earmoulds last?
Earmoulds need to fit well and comfortably. Growing children will need new earmoulds regularly, depending on their age and hearing loss. Adults require new earmoulds less frequently
- Infants (under 12 months) – every four to six weeks
- Babies and toddlers (12 months to around two years) – every three to four months
- Older children – once or twice a year.
- Adults – once every 1-5 years
How are earmoulds customised?
Your clinician will take an impression (cast) of the ear using soft putty. First, they'll make sure the ear is clear by looking in the outer ear and ear canal with a special light. Then they'll place a small foam block inside the ear canal. A syringe of putty is carefully squeezed into the ear and after a few minutes the putty becomes firm and rubbery. The impression is removed and sent to the earmould manufacturer. The procedure is not at all painful, but the putty can feel cold!
What’s that whistling sound from the hearing aid?
Feedback or whistling happens when sound coming out of the hearing aid is picked up by the hearing aid microphone and amplified again. If feedback occurs while the hearing aid is being worn, it means sound is leaking out of the hearing aid system somewhere – most commonly from around the earmould. It's more likely with high-powered hearing aids or for young babies, because they grow so quickly their moulds become loose.
What can be done to stop feedback?
To stop feedback, we need to stop the leakage of sound. Check the earmould is seated properly in the ear by putting your finger on the earmould and gently wiggling it into the the ear a little more. This may stop the whistling – at least temporarily.
If it continues, contact your hearing centre for an impression appointment so you can get a new earmould.
In the meantime, use a lubricant such as Auragel to ‘fill in’ the spaces between the mould and the ear. You can get Auragel from your Hearing Australia centre or some chemists. Alternatively, a light smear of Vaseline or K-Y Jelly on the mould can help, but check with your doctor first before using gels if there is a history of ear infections or skin problems.
Can I get new moulds quickly in an emergency?
Absolutely. We can get fast-track urgent earmoulds at many of our centres meaning we can get a new one to you in around a fortnight.
Is ear wax the problem?
Excessive wax in the ear can cause feedback by reflecting sound out of the ear. The clinician can check if there is any build-up. A clinician can't remove wax from the ear or take an impression if there is a blockage of wax. If there's a large wax build-up, an appointment will be needed to see a GP/ENT/practice nurse to get it removed.
Cleaning out the wax might solve the feedback problem, or a new impression for a new earmould may still be required.
My baby’s aids feedback when they’re feeding
Some babies will get whistling from the hearing aid only when it is up against a parent’s chest while feeding. This can also happen if the baby lies with one side of the head against a pillow. You can turn the hearing aid off on that side in this circumstance, but remember to turn it back on!
What can be done if the feedback keeps happening?
If feedback is still occurring, even with new earmoulds, your clinician can ask the earmould laboratory to further refine the earmoulds. Sometimes it’s a process of experimentation to arrive at a suitable solution, but be assured your clinician and the laboratory specialists will work with you to find a solution.
What about uncomfortable earmoulds?
People who wear powerful hearing aids need firmly fitting earmoulds, which may occasionally result in sore ears. If the earmould hurts, make an appointment to see your clinician. Some modification of the earmould may be all that’s required, or perhaps special instructions need to be given to the earmould laboratory.
Do all earmoulds use the same material?
Earmoulds are made from a range of materials that vary in softness and non-allergenic properties. You might do better with a particular material, so your clinician may try more than one until they find the right solution. If there are any problems with the earmould, ask your clinician about alternatives.