Six Tips on How to Care for Your Hearing Aids
Looking after your hearing aid properly can help to optimize its function and prolong its life. Considering that hearing aids can’t be replaced at the convenience store for $2, they are a significant investment that will require daily care.
Hearing aids spend a lot of time in an environment that not many of us would want to go – your ear canal. In this dark place, they are exposed to moisture, earwax, and possibly other debris.
Here are six (6) tips on how to look after your hearing aids. Your local hearing center may have some other recommendations specific to your type and brand of device, and will often be able to supply you with the accessories needed to care for your hearing aids.
1. Clean your hearing aids daily
How would you like to sit in a dark, dank cave for days, covered in earwax? You wouldn’t! Neither would your hearing aids. Along with a dead battery, getting clogged up with earwax is the top reason for why hearing aids fail or perform sub-optimally.
Many hearing aids will come with a small brush and pick. You may also want to use a soft-bristled toothbrush (reserved exclusively for your hearing aid, of course). Hold your device in such a way that any debris will fall out to the ground as you brush it, rather than remaining lodged in the opening (remember, gravity). You may need to use a wax pick to gently clean any openings that still have stubborn particles stuck in them. Some hearing aids come with a wax filter, also known as a wax guard or cerustop. Once you see earwax accumulating on the filter, it’s a good idea to change to a new one.
If you use a behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid, your earmold may develop a slight discoloration and odor after some time. To keep them looking like new for as long as possible, wipe them with a damp cloth every night and soak them in warm, soapy water about once a week.
If you need to wipe down the shell and other external components of your hearing aid, use a slightly damp cloth. Harsh cleaning chemicals and alcohol wipes are unnecessary and may damage them. Finish up by using a clean, dry cloth or tissue.
2. Avoid extreme hot and cold temperatures
Hearing aids are delicate creatures. Bouncing them between extreme hot and cold temperatures (such as next to the crackling fireplace and then outdoors in the falling snow) can cause condensation to build up, and subsequent damage to their electronics. If you wear eyeglasses, think about those occasions that cause them to fog up. If condensation has the potential to form on your glasses, they can form in your hearing aids, too.
Be mindful of situations that may make your hearing aid a little warmer or colder than it would like to be. These include the dash of your car or its glovebox on a hot day (or even inside your car at all when it’s parked under the sun) or next to a heater or fireplace. In the colder months, if you must venture outside, keep your hearing aids warm by wearing a hat or earmuffs. Alternatively, if you don’t need your hearing aids for your outdoor activity, consider leaving them at home rather than in your pocket to freeze.
3. Protect your hearing aids from moisture
Although the casings of many hearing aids are highly rated to protect against moisture and dirt, it’s still not recommended to go snorkeling with them. Hearing aids are electronic devices, which tend not to do well if moisture comes into contact with the circuitry.
Remove your hearing aids before leaping into the pool, ocean, or hot tub, and take them out before your shower, too. In addition to taking out your hearing aids before dunking your head underwater, consider placing them in a location that isn’t a vanity in a steaming bathroom or poolside bench in a humid aquatic center.
Remember that even if you’re pedantic about not taking your hearing aids for a swim, they’re still exposed to moisture daily, in the form of sweat. You may consider using a dehumidifying device overnight to help remove any excess moisture. If your hearing aid takes button batteries, open the battery compartment overnight to let it dry out.
4. Avoid chemicals that may come into contact with your hearing aids
Cleaning chemicals have the potential to damage your hearing aids and are simply not necessary. Chemicals such as hair sprays, cosmetics, soap, deodorants, perfumes, and insect repellents should be kept away from your hearing aids. Fine particles of airborne chemicals may waft into the openings of your device, such as the microphone, and cause it to become blocked or damaged. Try to insert your hearing aids only after you’ve applied these products.
5. Use the hearing aid batteries as recommended
Unsurprisingly, a dead battery in your hearing aid will do little to help your hearing. Depending on the usage of your device, the size of the battery, and whether it’s disposable or rechargeable, the lifespan of a hearing aid battery can vary greatly.
It is not recommended to try and insert a rechargeable battery into a hearing aid designed for disposable button batteries or vice versa. In addition to being unlikely to physically fit, it may damage your device and void any warranties.
You can prolong the life of your hearing aid batteries by having clean, dry hands whenever changing a button battery, turning off your hearing aid when not in use, and storing spare batteries at room temperature away from other metallic objects. Overnight, keep your battery compartment open to allow any moisture to dissipate.
If you’re not using your hearing aid for a prolonged period of time, it’s recommended to remove the battery altogether to avoid corrosion and damage to the internals of your device.
6. Handle your hearing aids with care
For something that requires a significant investment, this goes without saying. Despite this (and even now that it has been said), many people will tend to leave their hearing aids in any old spot. This exposes them to the risk of getting lost, trodden on, or eaten (yes, eaten). Your hearing aids come with a case – try to use it.
Your hearing specialist will give you their own recommendations specific to your hearing loss and device; however, generally speaking, it is ideal to have your hearing aids checked and serviced every 6 months. This will allow your hearing specialist to retune your aids to keep up with any changes to your hearing, as well as ensure they’re clean and functioning optimally.