Ears are unique, and nobody has the same size ears. It is not uncommon for the left and the right ear to be sized differently as well as the ear canal. Your ear canal’s attachment to the jaw causes the ear canal to change shape when you yawn, chew, or talk. Combine these factors and the trials of adequately fitting a hearing aid to a canal become apparent. Small and distorted ear canals pose a challenge for hearing aid manufacturers, but new designs are turning things around for the better.
It is no secret that people often feel like there is a stigma associated with the use of a hearing aid. As such, manufacturers of hearing devices are now producing hearing aids that are small and discreet and in some cases nearly invisible. These designs give people confidence to wear their hearing aids.
Consumers want a hearing aid that is high-tech and discreet. Their needs generally fall into three design requests:
Manufacturers, challenged by not only the different shapes and sizes of ear canals but the problems of small and distorted ear canals as well, face obstacles in providing a consumer with these features.
Accurately fitting an earmold to the ear canal is critical to the success of a hearing aid as various degrees of hearing loss and ear canal shapes must be taken into account. When a patient presents with a very small or distorted ear canal, achieving success is complicated. In these cases, feedback and control are often elusive, and multiple remakes of the earmold are frequently the result. Why does this happen?
Feedback and over-amplification result from the high-frequency canal resonances associated with small ear canals. A little ear or ear canal make retaining an earmold difficult and create leaks and feedback. Electronics can control feedback in hearing aids, but it is often a counterproductive exercise. Fitting a hearing aid to a person with small or distorted ear canals is difficult. It is imperative to train a person properly in methods of earmold insertion.
As of October 5, 2018, The FDA is allowing the sale of a hearing aid that a user can purchase and fit themselves. This design enables a hearing aid wearer to adjust, program, and control their hearing aids themselves. The adjustments to the hearing aid take place on a mobile app on a smartphone. However, if you want the best fit from a hearing aid, it is essential for your hearing health for you to make an appointment with a hearing healthcare provider for a complete hearing evaluation. A hearing aid fitting will give you an opportunity to have your hearing aids fitted, programmed, and maintained by a professional.