Believe it or not, your ears are not only as unique as your fingerprints, they may even be more effective as an identification tool in the future. If you’ve ever wondered why a friend raves about earbuds that you can’t wear comfortably, it may come down to the unique shape of your ears.

The same holds true anytime you need a form-fitting earmold. It’s easy to think of earmolds as only essential for hearing aid wearers, but others can also benefit from a visit to Hearing & Balance Services of Reston, the earmolds specialists, whenever they need custom earmolds for their lifestyle needs. Earmolds can be practical and effective hearing protectors too.

The two uses of earmolds

Custom-fit earmolds have two primary functions: Hearing enhancement and hearing protection. Sometimes, an earmold product may serve both functions, protecting against loud sounds while still permitting conversational frequencies at near-normal levels.

One example of this type of combination earmold is hunter’s earplugs. A single gunshot is enough to cause permanent hearing damage, since 140 decibels is a typical gunshot’s loudness, louder than the level of a jet engine. Special valves in the plug close automatically upon firing of a gun, while acoustic filters amplify ambient noise, allowing the hunter to hear sounds while tracking.

Musician’s plugs work in a similar fashion. Extended exposure to amplified sounds over time can damage hearing as readily as the sharp transients of a gunshot. Yet, musicians need balanced attenuation across the frequency spectrum to interact with other musicians as well as delivering their own effective performance.

A swimmer or other water sports enthusiast, on the other hand, needs to keep their ear canals dry to prevent an itchy and sometimes painful condition called swimmer’s ear. While generic wax plugs can do the job, they’re over-the-counter, so there’s no guarantee of a perfect fit. A custom-made, silicone swimmer’s plug gives a watertight seal every time.

Making custom earmolds

A professional audiologist is your best choice for custom-made earmolds. Your lifestyle earmolds all start with an ear impression. Starting with a foam plug to which a string is attached, she fills your ear with a gel substance that enters your ear canal and covers part of the outer ear. This substance hardens in a few minutes, and the string is used to pull the impression from your ear.

These impressions then serve as the basis for an earmold manufacturing lab. Bee makes hundreds of ear impressions every year for her hearing aid patients, so her experience means you’re assured a solid and accurate fit.

You can also discuss your lifestyle requirements with us to assure that your finished earmold matches your needs. The design of your finished earmold may be altered to enhance performance elements that are important to you. For example, canal-lock designs may ensure a secure fit if you’re particularly active.