Sore ear problems, need hearing aids in a headphone style

I have worn hearing aids for fifteen years. For fourteen of them I have been able to wear both hearing aids 18 hours a day with no problem. For the last five years I have been using full shell earmolds with BTE ReSound Enzo 9s. My hearing loss is such that open dome type are not suitable.

For the past year my right ear becomes unbearably itchy and uncomfortable after a few hours. The problem is in my ear canal, not the outer ear. Sometimes it becomes painful and impossible to fit a HA even for a short time. I have both soft silicon and hard plastic moulds, but they both cause the problem. I am pursing the issue with my doctor but meanwhile I take it out whenever possible. But as most here will know, communication with only one HA is much less than 50% of wearing two.

My question is does anyone know of a headphone-style hearing aid that would incorporate a microphone and be programmed to my audiogram. This would avoid the need to insert anything into my ear canal. Obviously it is not going to be nearly as effective as the proper thing but better than no HA at all.

Even if such a thing exists, I would really like to keep using the Enzo in my good left ear, which might be a further problem.

Thanks for any thoughts.

I don’t know if it helps but I’ve had many many infections and surgeries on my left ear. I’ve had 100s of infections in my ear canal.

What I found helped me, was soaking my ear mould in Dettol liquid. That has stopped the itchy feeling and infections completely.

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I’ve seen people use dehydrator with uv lights for disinfection. But, did you go to the ENT to look at your canals and if there’s infection, to give you medication for that first? Edit: saw you’re in the process.

Also, ears grow, both from outside and inside, maybe makes sense to make new molds, maybe this old one don’t fit right anymore and causes pressure in the wrong place?

I only know about bose heaRphones, but I’m not sure what they can or look like.

I don’t remember ever having issues with earbuds on headphones, but with HAs, since they go deeper, at least once a day I get the urge to pull them out and scratch my ears, you know, like the dog or cat does it, except I have to do it in the canal. It’s probably just too much tickling of those hairs inside in my case, but the urge I can’t overcome, I have to do it or I’d probably go crazy after a while.

Anyhow, based on this I think earbuds might be tolerated even if HA molds are not.

If you have almost horizontal line on audiogram, hearphones could work. But I think they even can be adjusted a bit with some simple equalizer.

Someone mentioned they have better experience with hearphones than HAs, but I forgot which loss type they had.

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Thanks, I haven’t tried that. I have been prescribed Otomise which is antibiotic earspray, which is very effective but does not clear it up permanently.

Do you do the Dettol soak every night? From what you said there is no adverse effect on the molds, even silicone.

Thanks. You describe the feeling very well, and rubbing/scratching can make it easily progress to sore and painful. Yes a new earmold might be a good idea, though my audiologist thinks I should pursue the medical options first.

I am not quite sure what you mean by “hearphones”. As far as I can see it is another word for headphones or is it something different? They need to incorporate a microphone so that I can hear what people around me are saying, not music or TV.

My audiogram is a steep slope from -45dB at 250hz to -115dB at 4khz.

A bit more googling and I came across the Bose Hearphones

These must have a microphone, and as you say don’t poke into the ear as far. But I don’t think any option to profile to my audiogram, except with bass and treble.

Just to be clear these would be for short term use, mainly at home, while taking the Enzo out to give my ear a break.

Quite expensive (though not compared to HAs) so I’ll probably try Dettol first.

Thanks very much for the suggestion.

@boreham the Hearphones aren’t going to be anywhere strong enough for your loss if you need superpower BTEs with full shell molds. They’re meant for folks “of a certain age” who are too embarrassed to get real hearing aids.

Personally I think you need to focus on ear and hearing aid cleanliness and also make sure you get the most hypoallergenic material you can. You need to be clear with your audiologist that you need a very hypoallergenic material. I know you said you’ve tried hard and soft molds but there are tons of different hard and soft materials on the market today; it’s not just a choice between hard and soft.

My earmold is from Emtech; take a look at all their materials (think mine is EM3000 but not really sure as my audi didn’t give me the specific invoice): Emtech Laboratories - Conventional Earpieces | Materials Options

Thanks phobos512. Yes I realise the Hearphone would be nowhere near strong enough to replace the Enzo. That wasn’t my intention, which was to use the Hearphone at home (mainly) so that I could leave the right Enzo out, on the basis that the Hearphone would be quite a bit better than nothing at all.

You’re right I should focus on the cleanliness first. And after that the hypoallergenic aspect. Since I have worn all kinds of HAs for 14 years (including my present molds for 4) without any allergic type problems, it is a bit surprising that it should start now, but I know stranger things have happened.

I admit I am pretty new to all this but isn’t 4 years a really long time to keep a set of molds?

You should post your audiogram to your profile it’ll help folks figure out what might work. They might not get loud enough for you to hear anything at all through them.

I have tended to get new molds with new aids, and since I have been using Enzo’s (original version and now 3D) all this time there hasn’t been a reason to change, until now perhaps.

I needed new molds after a burst eardrum ten years ago.

Something I started doing shortly after I started wearing aids was putting my aids in a UV type hearing aid dryer. I did this due to very itchy ear canals. This Dry & Store dryer has really helped. Along with drops others have mentioned it just might stop recurring itching and infections.
Keeping the molds and your ears clean is very important.

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Yes I soak my ear mould with a small amount of dettol and water over night.

It’s worked wonders for me and no effect of the moulds (both soft and hard) either. Using Milton (baby steriliser) does damage soft ear moulds tho.

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Take a look at the Nuheara IQbuds2 Max. They are somewhat programmable. Like the Bose they do go in your ear but not as far as your HA and you could just use one I suppose.

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Dettol is hard to find here in the USA, but I get it on Amazon. Pretty easy to find in Canada at London Drugs or similar.

Bummer. Didn’t think about that.

Thanks for all the inputs.

I do have a UV dehumidifier but I probably haven’t used it long enough or consistently enough to be effective.

I am in UK and have Dettol already.

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Wow, that is very interesting to me as I too suffer from ear infections.
Not to sound too stupid, but I assume you mix Dettol and water 50/50 and remove your mold from the receiver first prior to dipping the mold into the Dettol/water mix?
Also on Amazon I see many different types of Dettol. Is their any particular one you order?
Thanks

I actually only use a small amount of dettol at a time compared to the amount of water.

I remove my ear mould from the hearing aid.

I leave it to soak all night.

My first pair of HA were Phonak Excelias with custom silicone molds. With proper programming done, I left the audiologist’s office, went outside and it was close to best day of my life. Long story short by the end of less than 5 days everywhere the ear molds touched was not only sore but bleeding and scabbed over. Neither the audiologist nor the ear specialist had an answer.

It was a Canadian University student on this forum who told me she had experienced this. The solution for her was lucite custom molds, not silicone because she was allergic to the custom silicone.

I wore those same, original molds for the original hearing aids for close to a dozen years, no problem until the hearing aids themselves began to fail. The molds were also now tighter fit, although they weren’t yet causing any trouble. The plastic tubing was occasionally replaced as it became hard with age.

I have no expertise in this field except other audiologists since have often said to me they always use lucite when doing custom ear molds. I think every 4 months or so an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser (depending on where I lived, where I went) cleaned the molds with some solution when replacing the plastic tubing. I have no idea if this would apply to your situation but it’s worth mentioning.

(My husband said something about a difference between “injection molding silicone” and the silicone custom molding…if I remember his explanation correctly.)

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Thanks Carolo…I am learning a lot from this thread.

Thinking I will pursue both cleanliness and new mold options. My right ear (itchy one) is definitely a tighter fit than left. With lubricant like vaseline it goes in but without can be difficult. I think this is something that has happened in the last eighteen months and may be part of the problem.

At first I thought the slight swelling causing the tightness was caused by an infection, but since it has not changed even in the good spells, maybe it is a separate factor.