No matter what style of hearing aids you wear, they all contain small, delicate pieces of technology working together to improve your hearing. One of those pieces is a hearing aid dome, the small piece of plastic or silicone placed over the receiver for the receiver-in-canal (RIC) type hearing aids. But what do these pieces actually do to make hearing easier? Explore what domes are, how they contribute to your hearing improvement and how to care for and maintain them.
Also known as tips, domes for hearing aids are small, bell-shaped, flexible pieces that attach to the end of your hearing aid’s receiver and sit snugly inside the ear canal. They are typically made of pliable materials like plastic or silicone. Hearing aid domes are an essential part of Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) hearing aids and send sound directly into the ear to create a natural listening experience.
A hearing aid dome isn't a one-size-fits-all piece—many different dome sizes and styles are available, offering sound quality and amplification options to best suit your hearing loss needs. By using the results of your hearing test, your hearing care provider (HCP) will select the most appropriate style of domes for hearing aids and help determine which will be the most effective and comfortable for you. These are some of the different styles you might hear your HCP talk about:
As the name suggests, open dome hearing aid pieces contain openings along the hearing aid dome. These openings allow sound to pass through the outside of the receiver but allow low-frequency sounds to escape, creating a more natural listening environment. One major difference between open and closed hearing aid domes: Open domes help prevent the occlusion effect, which can lead to the sensation that your ears are stuffed or blocked, like the feeling of plugging your ears.
Because this type of dome allows some background noise to pass through your ears, open domes are recommended for people with mild to moderate or high frequency hearing loss.
While they also have small openings, the main difference between open and closed hearing aid domes is that closed domes block more of the ear canal. This closure helps reduce feedback and amplifies low-frequency sounds.
Closed dome hearing aids work best for people with moderate hearing loss whose hearing loss affects both high and low frequencies and requires additional amplification.
In most cases, hearing aids with domes are most recommended for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, especially age-related hearing loss (presbycusis). This includes RIC hearing aids, where the dome sits over the receiver, which is in ear canal. This allows for natural hearing experiences in most cases. These models are also very discreet, with the hearing aid domes invisible in the ear when properly worn.
As seen with power domes, domes for hearing aids can be used for cases of moderately severe to severe hearing loss as well, but your HCP might recommend Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids with earmolds instead to achieve more powerful amplification.
As you and your HCP determine your level of hearing loss and your lifestyle needs, consider the following pros and cons of hearing aid domes to see they will be an impactful enhancement to your hearing health journey.
One of the biggest pros for hearing aid domes is that they comfortably and discreetly fit inside the ear canal. Not only is this a plus for people self-conscious about their hearing loss, but domes for hearing aids still allow low-frequency sounds into the hearing aid while amplifying higher frequencies. This ability to balance both low- and high-frequency sounds makes hearing aids with domes a useful option for varying degrees of hearing loss.
Domes are also easy to clean, simply needing a wipe down with a soft cloth at the end of the day. A lost or damaged hearing aid dome is also relatively easy and inexpensive to replace, as many hearing aid manufacturers use the same dome styles and sizes.
While there are upsides to hearing aid domes, there are also downsides. Domes for hearing aids don’t last forever and must be changed every two or three months. Additionally, if your hearing aids are removed from your ears too quickly, or they aren’t the right size, it’s possible for a hearing aid dome to get stuck in your ear.
Like other hearing aid parts, domes can also become damaged from earwax or moisture from sitting inside the ear. To prevent some of these problems, talk to your HCP about how often to change your hearing aid domes and how to clean them properly.
Because hearing aid domes sit tightly inside your ears, they get exposed to sweat, moisture and earwax that can build up and damage your devices. To prevent this, focus on your domes as part of your daily hearing aid cleaning routine. Here are tips to keep in mind:
Hearing aid domes should be replaced every two to three months, even with a cleaning routine. If you are unsure how to clean the domes, ask your HCP to demonstrate a cleaning routine.
For proper hearing aid dome fit, the dome should be just big enough to form a secure seal in your ear canal but shouldn’t be so big that they’re uncomfortable to wear for long periods or put pressure on your ear. A dome that’s too big will cause pain in your ears and distort voices or noises. On the other hand, domes that are too small will be too easy to take in and out.
Domes come in a variety of sizes, but finding the right fit depends on the type of dome and your ear size. Your hearing care professional might need to try a few sizes to find which one fits your unique ear shape the best. If you’re struggling with how to keep hearing aid domes in your ears, it means that there’s a fit problem, and you need to talk to a professional. Your HCP will find the best size that is stable, comfortable and appropriate for your hearing aid model.
While hearing aid domes should be changed regularly, that doesn’t mean that any dome will do. Domes aren’t always compatible across models and brands, and using a different size than your HCP recommends can lead to domes getting stuck in the ears.
Most importantly, you should not change the style of the hearing aid dome you’re using—for example: go from an open to closed dome. Your hearing aids are programmed with your original type of dome in mind and changing the type of dome you’re using can disrupt your hearing aids’ sound quality and make hearing difficult. If you’re experiencing any discomfort or frustration with your domes, consult your HCP to make adjustments to ensure compatibility with your hearing aids.
Once you have the correct replacement hearing aid domes, you can switch out the parts easily at home. Below are three steps to change your domes:
Once the new dome is in place, carefully test it in your ear. If you feel any discomfort or it feels too loose, remove it from your ears and consult your HCP.