Sometimes our hearing health care specialists will see a hearing aid user who is experiencing a ‘plugged up’ feeling. This feeling is called occlusion. Some people describe feeling occluded similar to talking in a barrel, hearing their own voices reverberate in a booming or hollow way.
Those who experience occlusion without hearing aids can often resolve it by having the blockage in their ears addressed. But if you wear hearing aids, that can leave you feeling occluded often.
However, our hearing specialists here at Hearing Associates of Las Vegas have some expert tips to avoid hearing aid occlusion or that feeling of being plugged up.
1. Opt For Open Hearing Aid Domes
With Receive-In-Canal (RIC)—also called Receiver-In-The-Ear—there are different domes that can be fitted. If you have been feeling occluded with your current domes, it may be time to switch to open-fit hearing aid domes.
By using this style of domes, you can reduce the air pressure that can come with close-fit hearing aids. With less pressure, you will have lower reverberation, which is likely the source of your occlusion.
2. Swap Current Earmold For Vented Earmold
If you have a Behind-The-Ear (BTE) style of hearing aid, it is likely that you have a custom earmold that you place into the shell of your ear. This solid mold can cause you to feel occluded. So, a simple fix would be to have another mold made so that you can have a vented earmold made.
There is a potential downside to having a vented earmold. With more airflow, you do run the risk of experiencing feedback, which is the squealing sound that indicates your hearing aids are not making a perfect seal with your ear.
Be sure to discuss with our hearing instrument specialists concerning what size of vent is more likely to cause this issue before opting for a custom vented earmold.
3. Regularly Clean Hearing Aids
For those who enjoyed their hearing aids but have recently been experiencing occlusion, we have a question. How often are you cleaning your hearing aids?
In-The-Ear hearing aids normally come with a certain amount of vents built into the shell, and the other styles of hearing aids are designed for a limited amount of airflow. But hearing aids can become clogged with earwax and other debris if not regularly cleaned.
You don’t have to do anything excessive to keep your hearing aids clean and maintained. By just wiping them down with a soft, microfiber cloth at night before putting your hearing aids away, you can keep them in good working order.
4. Have Your Hearing Aids Professionally Cleaned
Whether you are a regular hearing aid cleaner or more sporadic in your cleaning, your hearing aids can benefit from being professionally cleaned a few times a year.
In our hearing aid office repair lab, our hearing instrument specialists have the tools to thoroughly clean your hearing aids, addressing all the tough to reach nooks and crannies. Also, while your hearing aids are being cleaned, our specialists will ensure that they are operating correctly and that there isn’t another reason why your hearing aids are causing you to feel occluded.
5. Replace Hearing Aid Tubing
With BTE and RIC hearing aids, the tube connecting the main body of the hearing aid to the receiver can become damaged. When the tubing does become damaged or clogged with debris, it can cause occlusion.
There are at-home tools you can use to help clear out a clog. Bt if your hearing aid tubing has become damaged, you can always come to visit our hearing aid clinic to have the tubing replaced.
Keep Ears Cerumen-Free
Hearing aid users are more prone to building up cerumen (earwax) as their ears react to the use of hearing aids. Without taking steps to keep your ears cerumen-free, you may develop a painful blockage that can cause occlusion.
You can use over-the-counter earwax softening kits to allow the cerumen to soften and come out naturally. Or, our hearing specialists are able to remove the cerumen for you in our office.
Types Of Hearing Aids That Help Avoid Occlusion
There are different styles of hearing aids that are less prone to causing occlusion. While most styles of hearing aids can be fitted with vents to help prevent occlusion, your best bet when it comes to avoiding feeling plugged up are Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) hearing aids and Lyric hearing aids.
With RIC hearing aids, you can use open-dome hearing aid receivers, which will allow for air to flow naturally. That way, the air pressure in your ears will prevent you from hearing the hollow booming associated with occlusion. All major hearing aid brands make RIC hearing aids styles, so you won’t be restricted in choice when you look for that style of hearing aids.
Less commonly known are the Lyric Extended-Wear hearing aids. These small, low-tech hearing aids are placed deep in the ear canal by one of our hearing health care professionals. Once in place, these discreet hearing aids should be completely unnoticeable—aside from the fact that you can hear better!
If you would like to talk to our hearing specialists concerning your feelings of occlusion, contact us today to set up a consultation. We are more than happy to help you achieve the best hearing possible!