The Link Between Domes and Sound Quality
Commonly used with behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid styles, domes are small, flexible silicone pieces that have the shape of a bell or a mushroom. The dome’s function is to protect the small speaker that transmits sound inside the ear.
Domes come in various shapes and sizes to fit the individual width and depth of every person’s ear canal. Each dome style delivers different amplification levels and sound qualities, and the right type of dome is usually selected by an audiologist in accordance with the patient’s unique hearing support needs.
Domes come in several styles: open, closed and power domes. Your specific type of hearing loss will determine which style will work best for you.
If your hearing loss is mild to moderate, an open dome might be the best option since the openings it features allow some natural sound to enter the ear canal along with the amplified sound.
In case you suffer from severe hearing loss, you may benefit most from a closed dome style since these domes provide a stronger amplification, keeping the amplified sound inside the ear canal.
For individuals with profound hearing loss, a power dome is often the best option as these domes seal the ear canal, preventing sound leaks and providing the best amplification possible.
Usually, your audiologist will pick the most suitable dome size to fit the specific shape and length of your ear canal.
Generally, the dome is supposed to be slightly larger than your ear canal in order to seal it and prevent sound leakage, but on the other hand, there shouldn’t be too much pressure on the ear’s skin, as this can cause irritation and redness. A well-fitting dome makes a slight ruffling noise when inserted or removed, and a little bit of resistance can be felt during this process, without there being discomfort while the dome rests inside the ear.
Signs Your Dome’s Size Is Incorrect
Due to each person’s ear canal being unique, some individuals go through a trial-and-error process until they find the dome size that works best for them. Sometimes, even if the dome feels secure and comfortable when initially inserted, it might begin causing pressure and irritation inside the ear over time, indicating the need for a smaller dome size.
In addition to causing discomfort, domes that are too big for your ear can make people’s voices sound deeper and unclear. This is especially valid for open style domes since their vents can sometimes deform over time. Power domes that are too large may cause a lot of irritation, soreness and swelling due to the pressure they put on the ear canal.
On the other hand, if your dome is too small for your ear canal, it will cause little resistance when inserted or removed and might not make any noise at all. Additionally, the amplification it provides will be insufficient, as it won’t be able to properly seal the ear canal and keep the sound inside it.
Can Domes Get Stuck Inside the Ear?
If your dome’s size is too big or too small, the dome can sometimes either fall out of the ear or become stuck inside it. If the latter occurs, please note that you should not attempt to remove the dome on your own as this could result in the dome getting pushed deeper inside the canal, potentially damaging the eardrum.
In case a dome gets trapped inside your ear, make sure to contact your hearing aid professional so that they can remove it as soon as possible. If it’s left inside the canal for a longer period of time, the ear could become infected.
The Best Domes for You
Please do note that individuals with the same (or similar) type of hearing loss might prefer different dome styles as no two people process sound in the same exact way. Once you begin changing your domes on your own, you will be able to find out which style and size are the best for your preferences and hearing support needs.
The dome that works best for you will feel comfortable and secure, and will provide a clear, crisp sound together with your hearing aid.