As the owner of The Hearing Professionals I see it on a daily basis: Patients coming into the office with hearing aids that have stopped working because they’re clogged with wax or debris. Some patients come in telling us that something must be wrong with their hearing aids because, “they’re just not working like they used to.” Others call frantically saying, “Something’s wrong with my hearing aid … I need to be seen …. It’s urgent!”
With any investment there is a certain degree of maintenance required to ensure that the purchase is well kept. A hearing aid is no different. While there are certain items that are recommended only for the manufacturer or a hearing care professional, there are many other preventative measures that the hearing aid wearer, or their caretaker in some cases, can complete regularly to ensure that the hearing aid is well maintained and functioning at full capacity.
The most common culprit for hearing aid repair is cerumen – or ear wax. Some manufacturers estimate that over 70% of repairs are caused by wax or foreign material getting into the internal components of the hearing device.
Daily cleaning of the hearing aids is recommended at home. In order to prevent wax from clogging critical components of the hearing device – such as the microphones or the receivers (speakers) – it is important for the wearer to wipe off the hearing instrument each and every morning with a special cloth. Tissues are not as good because many contain aloe or lotions that might harm the aid. Also, tissues tend to fall apart and can simply add to your problem. Cleaning cloths should be cleaned regularly in order to avoid re-depositing of wax or other debris into the aid. While it is instinctive to clean the devices at night after a day’s use, it’s best to wipe them down in the morning when the wax has had the opportunity to dry and will remove with more ease. It is also important to be careful not to wipe debris into the microphone ports from another part of the aid.
Any exposure to water, humidity, condensation or perspiration can cause serious damage to a hearing aid. Today, many hearing aids are designed to be highly water and oil resistant. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the design of today’s hearing aids, it is difficult to protect hearing aids from oil and moisture hazards.
The first step to preventing moisture damage is to avoid accidental exposure to water. Hearing aid users should try to adhere to a routine where it comes to their daily use of their devices. For example, if you typically shower first thing in the morning, leave the hearing aids in their storage case – preferably not in the bathroom – in order to avoid forgetting to take them out before bathing or accidentally knocking them into the sink or toilet.
At night, hearing aid battery doors should be left open to allow air to flow through the device; this has the added benefit of preserving battery life.
You may also want to look for a hearing aid dehumidifier. At night time you put your hearing aids into the dehumidifier which do a good job at pulling out the moisture. A dehumidifier can range between $25 and $250.
To prevent damage, hearing aids should be stored in a consistent, safe manner nightly. They should be placed out of the reach of small children and pets (as animals tend to be drawn to devices due to the human scent). When damage occurs, gather all components of the hearing device and schedule an appointment with your hearing healthcare provider as soon as possible. The devices should not be worn if there is any damage to the casing as sharp edges may cause irritation or abrasion to the ear and surrounding areas. Damage to the tubing, either tears or pinches, should be addressed as soon as possible as that can have severe effects on the sound quality of the hearing device.
Make sure to utilize these tips to get the most out of your hearing aids and to keep them in optimal working condition.