Moulds and Mould
If you wear over-the-ear hearing aids, especially the bigger ones, you will have had the pleasure of trying to get moulds that fit well. And this is not easy – my hearing aid provider said 'Moulds that fit well are like gold.’
I keep wondering how hard this should be – you fill the ear with soft moulding goob, wait for it to set, and then take a mould from that. We are onto our second and third attempts. It does matter that this is right – too loose and they move around, whistle, or fall out; too tight and they press and hurt. If you fix where it presses in one area and then another develops. I'm using wet and dry sandpaper at home now – I find the grinder at the hearing aid place has too rough a finish. Even the soft polishing brush doesn't leave a really smooth finish for my super-sensitive ears! When we get a good fit, we’ll get a mould made, and keep a 3D image of it ready for next time.
If you have had skin irritation issues – itching or mould growth or redness, you can request a special coating on your moulds. This finish can be applied to in-the-ear devices as well. Wearing anything in your ear for long periods of time reduces the air flow, and prevents the ear canal from drying out. Your skin reacts to the constancy of moisture in the ear caused by reduced airflow by itchiness, or sometimes a growth of fungus. It is not uncommon to see infections in the ear canal in people who often wear other in-the-ear gadgets, including hearing protection plugs, i-pod plugs, swim plugs etc. Some of this may be related to hygiene of the plugs – handling noise protection plugs with dirty hands each time you take them out and put them in will certainly increase your chances of infection.
You can ask for an air hole in your mould and this will improve the ventilation and reduce irritation. It does have some impact on the sound, as the hole allows some of the sound to bounce back out. If you have a mild a loss this hole will also allow some natural sound to come in to your ear. The new barely there moulds allow plenty of airflow. It's worth trying different styles of these small moulds– some are soft, some are more rigid, and you may find one suits your ear better than another. They shouldn’t hurt or fall out.
The moral of the story is: Don't be afraid to keep asking until you get it right!