Hearing aid domes are a soft silicon ‘tip’ that attach to a behind-the-ear or receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid in place of a traditional ear mold. They come in a range of different styles that can benefit a wide range of hearing losses. Hearing aid domes fit inside the ear and help deliver the amplified sound from the hearing aid to the eardrum.
All hearing aid manufacturers will use slightly different hearing aid domes, but they will all usually have an ‘open’ style, a ‘closed’ style and usually some form of ‘power’ dome, designed for more severe hearing losses.
Traditionally, all hearing aids were fitted with ear molds, which are individually made for each hearing aid wearer’s ear canal. Ear molds are made from either hard acrylic, soft acrylic or even soft silicone material, and the style and material are chosen by the audiologist to best suit the individual’s ear and hearing loss. Older hearing aids had limited technology, and the only way to deliver the sound into the ear without the hearing aids whistling was to use an ear mold.
The problem with ear molds is that they can be bulky, and take time to produce. Hearing aid domes allow much faster hearing aid fittings, and can still fit a wide range of losses. Domes even allow for hearing aid fitting on the same day as the hearing test, speeding up the process and meaning you’re not waiting weeks to discover the amazing benefits of hearing aids! The use of domes also enables hearing aid trials, so you are able to ‘try before you buy’!
There are a number of advantages to domes. For individuals with milder hearing losses, an open dome can be used to fit their hearing loss. The holes allow natural sound in and out of the ear, meaning that less sound is trapped inside the ear canal, particularly with the hearing aid wearer’s own voice. This provides much more natural sound quality, leading to higher initial acceptance of the aid, and greater long-term benefit to the user.
Domes allow for a more discreet hearing aid fitting, just as discrete as an In-the-Ear hearing aid fitting in most cases. They are attached to slim tubes or directly to the receivers (in Receiver-in-the-Canal hearing aids), which are very thin and translucent, so they blend in with skin tone.
As previously mentioned, fitting hearing aids with earmolds can mean a wait of up to two weeks for the manufacturing and delivery of the mold, whereas, with fitting hearing aids with domes, the only wait is for the delivery of the domes (usually two days) and the wait for an appointment with your hearing professional. Some companies will allow same-day hearing aid fittings.
Unlike ear molds, hearing aid domes are disposable and should be replaced every two to three months on average. Your hearing professional should supply you with spares, which are affordable and very easy to change without the need for a visit to the hearing clinic.
Hearing aid domes are not suitable for everyone! People with severe to profound hearing losses will likely still have to use a powerful behind-the-ear hearing aid with a traditional ear mold. Domes can leave the hearing aid wearer more prone to feedback – the whistling sound that occurs when sound escapes from the ear and is picked up by the hearing aid microphones.
For very steep sloping high-frequency hearing losses, sometimes domes are unsuitable as they allow too much high frequency to escape from the ear canal, causing feedback and a lack of clarity with speech. In this case, a traditional ear mold may be used instead.
Although hearing aid domes come in a range of different styles and sizes, and are made of hypoallergenic material, some people find that they are not always a comfortable fit, in which case a mold may still be required.
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not hearing aid domes are the right way to go:
If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, fitting hearing aids with open domes is a great way to go! Open domes allow for natural sound quality and a faster acclimatization period for first time hearing aid wearers. Those with more severe hearing losses may not be suitable for an open style fitting, and may still require a hearing aid fitted to an ear mold.
If you are an existing hearing aid user and are currently fitted with an ear mold that you find uncomfortable – you may be more suited to wear hearing aid domes. The only way to find out is to visit your hearing professional and test it. Most hearing aids users that are fitted with domes find them to be a far more comfortable solution.
Although hearing aid domes are a discrete and comfortable style of hearing aid fitting, they can lead to undue whistling from your hearing aids. If the ear is left too open by a poorly fitting dome, then too much sound will escape from the ear canal, leading to whistling.
Often, the only way to reduce this is by decreasing the gain of the hearing aid, leading to a reduction in sound quality. Fitting hearing aids with domes can sometimes be a compromise between feedback and sound quality.
The main reason people love wearing hearing aids with domes is how hard it is for people to see they are wearing hearing aids! Whilst not totally invisible, the slim tubes that attach to the domes are far more discreet than the traditional ear mold tubing, and people are more confident wearing their hearing aids, meaning they are getting more benefit from wearing them regularly!
Whether you are completely new to hearing aids, or an existing hearing aid wearer looking for something different, the first step is a visit to your hearing professional. Here you will have your hearing tested, and your suitability for different hearing aid styles assessed.
Contact your nearest Attune Hearing Clinic to have a discussion with your hearing professional, they will be able to tell you more about the pros and cons of hearing aid domes, and whether or not they are the right solution for you! Give us a call at 1300 736 702 or book your appointment online!