Our ears are unique. When getting hearing protection devices or certain types of hearing aids, an accurate, customized ear impression is essential to creating the perfect fit. While at-home kits are available, they often result in less protection and can even lead to injury.
The Importance of Hearing Protection Devices
Exposure to loud noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss next to aging. Any noise that reaches a volume of 85 dB or above can damage your ears. The louder the noise, the less time it takes for damage to occur.
Common activities that may affect hearing include:
- Riding motorcycles and snowmobiles
- Attending concerts at the Roseland Theater or other Portland venues
Noise-induced hearing loss can be temporary, with normal hearing returning within a day or two. However, repeated exposure to loud noise is likely to cause permanent damage. Using custom hearing protection devices (HDPs) can protect your ears while still letting you participate in activities you enjoy.
Home Ear Impression Kits Offer Less Protection
Research has shown that HDPs created from at-home ear impression kits offer less protection than those made by an audiologist.
A 2013 study compared HDPs made with a home kit versus ones made by a professional. They took two sets of impressions from each participant. One by an amateur participant using an at-home kit. The other was taken by a licensed audiologist.
The results were that HDPs made by an audiologist were significantly more effective at blocking out sound.
Incorrect Ear Impressions Increase Injury Risk
A 2012 study sent out surveys to otolaryngology departments asking about their experiences treating secondary injuries caused during at-home impression taking for hearing aids. They found that:
- 301 institutions treated a total of 460 impression-related injuries
- 8% (298 cases) of injuries were caused by foreign bodies in the ear left during the removal of the impression material, with 32 requiring surgical intervention to treat.
- An additional 31.7% developed bleeding and fluid in the ear following removal of the ear impression.
If you need a quality ear impression, visit a professional audiologist to get the best protection and to keep your ears safe.
For additional information or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, call Mt. Hood ENT & Allergy today.