Summer is (finally) almost here. Many people look forward to this season because it gives them the opportunity to indulge in activities requiring warm, sunny days, like boating, swimming, hiking, and traveling.
Wearing hearing aids shouldn’t keep you from enjoying yourself, but it is important to remember exposure to high heat can damage their outer casings and interior components. Therefore, whether you plan to spend your days basking in the sun by the beach or pool, or visiting exotic destinations, you should prepare to keep your hearing aids safe and functioning.
Avoid extreme temperature changes. The plastic outer shells of hearing aids can melt if exposed directly to intense sunlight for long periods or in extreme heat, such as inside a car parked in a sweltering outdoor lot. Conversely, your hearing aids’ inner workings are more at risk from significant changes in temperature rather than heat or sun exposure specifically. This is because moisture condenses within the hearing aid as you go from a cool, air-conditioned environment into the hot outdoors, especially if you go back and forth repeatedly. As for hearing aid batteries, they are likely to fail if exposed to high heat for more than a short amount of time.
Here are three “don’ts” and one “do” for protecting your hearing aids from excessive heat:
- Don’t leave hearing aids lying out in direct sunlight
- Don’t leave hearing aids locked in a glove box or sitting on the dashboard
- Don’t wear hearing aids into tanning booths or under a sunlamp
- Do store hearing aid batteries in a cool, dry place
Sunscreen: good for you, not so much your hearing aids. While it is important to protect your skin from the sun’s rays, you could inadvertently damage your hearing aids by doing so. Sunscreen lotions and sprays can clog vents and damage other components. So:
- Do make sure you take care when applying sunscreen to your face, neck and ears
- Do put on sunscreen before you put in your hearing aids
The difference between “waterproof” and “water-resistance” matters. You may have water-resistant hearing aids but understand this does not mean they can be submerged in the ocean or a pool. Water-resistant hearing aids help if you’re perspiring in the summer sun. However, if you jump into a lake wearing them, water will get inside through the microphone or other vents and they will be ruined.
Truly waterproof hearing aids are IP68 certified, meaning there will be no seepage or damage even after being completely submerged in liquid. Call your hearing care provider with questions about your specific hearing aids.
Keep in mind:
- Don’t wear non-waterproof hearing aids if you’re going swimming, speed boating, or anywhere else where it is likely they will get drenched
- Do make sure you know whether your hearing aids are waterproof or water-resistant
- Do invest in a hearing aid dryer or dehumidifier to avoid ear infections and component damage in non-waterproof hearing aids
The skies are friendly for hearing aid wearers. Before you get on a plane, you should know that hearing aids sometimes set off metal detectors during security screenings. Don’t panic – you can let the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent know verbally or by using a downloadable TSA Notification Card that you wear hearing aids before setting off any alarms. The good news is hearing aids can be scanned without fear of damage.
Once you board your flight, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines exempt hearing aids from the “turn off all electronic devices” mandate. So:
- Don’t turn them off during your flight, as you might miss important information shared by the pilot or flight attendants
- Do feel free to wear hearing aids through body scanners or send them through X-ray in a carryon
Hitting the road with hearing aids. Whether you’re going on a day trip or cross-country adventure, save yourself time and worry by assembling a kit for your hearing aids well in advance. Just remember:
- Do bring extra batteries or a charger
- Do bring spare tubes and filters
- Do include a dryer and cleaning equipment
- Do include a card with the name/number of a local hearing aid provider, in case of emergency
- Do pack a storage case
This summer enjoy listening to crickets chirping while you sit by a campfire, the laughter of kids playing at the beach, or the sound of that mai tai sliding up through your straw as you lounge poolside. Just follow these simple do’s and don’ts to make sure your hearing aids keep up with your summertime lifestyle.