Custom Ear Molds: How They Protect Hearing and Enhance Leisurely Activities

What are custom ear molds?

Custom Ear MoldsHearing protection is extremely important for everyone who experiences loud noise. Custom ear molds can help protect against noise-induced damage by reducing the effect of external noise and are even beneficial for comfort during leisurely activities such as swimming and listening to music. The Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI) offers a variety of custom products including swim ear plugs, musician’s ear plugs, hearing protection, and headphones for smartphones and MP3 players.

How are they made?

At the fitting appointment, the audiologist will take unique molds of each ear using a piece of cotton or foam known as an otoblock and special impression material. Once proper placement within the ear is confirmed, a soft material that gradually hardens is gently syringed into the ear canal and outer bowl of each ear. The process is quick and painless, typically taking about five minutes. Once completely hardened, the impressions are removed from the ears, packaged and shipped to the manufacturer. The custom ear plugs or hearing protection will be designed for your specific needs.

Types of custom ear molds

Swim ear plugs help protect ears from water and bacteria while swimming. Those who may benefit from these types of molds are:
  • Children and adults who suffer from chronic ear infections due to swimming
  • People who have had surgical procedure(s) in their ear and should not be exposed to water
  • People who do not like the sensation of getting their ears wet when enjoying water activities
Custom Ear Plugs for SwimmersCustom hearing protection can help comfortably guard ears from noise-induced hearing loss as a result of work or leisurely activities. Anything above 85 decibels can cause hearing damage. Lawn mowers, airplanes, hair dryers and jack-hammers are just a few examples of items that produce sounds above this decibel level. A variety of occupations can benefit from custom hearing protection, such as:
  • Construction workers
  • Carpenters
  • Landscapers
  • Musicians
Musicians’ earplugs reduce sound levels, while maintaining the quality of the original sound. There are a variety of earplugs musicians may use depending on the type of music, instruments and vocals.  Performers often use custom made in-ear monitors as an alternative to earplugs which provide high fidelity (hi-fi) music output.

Hearing protection is crucial for those in the musical arts. A study in the peer-reviewed journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded professional musicians are almost four times more likely to lose their hearing and 57 percent more likely to develop tinnitus (continuous ringing in the ears).

Earpieces for smartphones and MP3 players differ from traditional headphones and replace the regular rubber or foam ear tips. Custom earpieces cancel out environmental noise, which tends to overpower the subtle details in the music. The advantages include:
  • Better overall fit
  • Higher sound quality at lower volume levels
  • Increased comfort
Earpieces for phones and MP3 players would benefit individuals who have sensitive ears or those who have trouble finding headphones that are a correct fit for their ears.

PEI’s audiologists work one-on-one with patients, examining their current hearing abilities and understanding their individual needs. PEI strives to match patients with the correct hearing accessories for their lifestyle and personal preferences.

Schedule an appointment for a custom fitting