Hearing aids tend to have a shelf-life of between five and seven years. With good care and proper maintenance, they will be a welcome, reliable companion during this time. Let’s take a look at some general do’s and don’ts that can help you ensure the longevity of your devices.
- Avoid Moisture
“Like many electronic devices, hearing aids don’t fare too well when exposed to water. It may seem obvious, but make sure that you always remove your aids before heading to the shower, bath or pool. Similarly, it’s not a bad idea to remove them before washing your face and brushing your teeth – a little caution can go a long way.”
- Beware the Hair
“It’s always wise to remove your hearing aids before styling your hair – whether it be at a barbershop, hairdressers, salon or even at home, it’s best to take them off beforehand, especially if you’re using any haircare or styling products such as hair gel or spray. That way you can safely avoid any potential clogs or nasty chemicals getting on your aids.”
- Safe, dry and clean
“‘Never work with animals or children’ goes the saying from the world of films and theatre, and it’s true of hearing aids as well: not only are they a choking hazard, but they’re also delicate things that can sustain damage easily if handled roughly. So, if you have kids or pets, it’s preferable to keep them out of reach. In terms of storage, it’s a good idea to keep them somewhere cool and dry, preferably a dry box like these. This is especially true if you’re at the gym or going to the beach, and, if you’re out and about, never leave your hearing aids behind in your car when it’s either very hot or cold.”
- Don’t do it alone
“Although it may seem tempting to try a home repair if your hearing aids aren’t functioning correctly, such complicated little devices require expert care. Beyond a simple cleaning, you should always leave the internal mechanisms to the professionals – never take them apart and alter the electronic components as it may result in further damage.”
Useful Maintenance Tools
If you’re serious about taking care of your hearing aids, then it’s worthwhile to invest in a few extra items that can really help you out. Some of the best and most convenient items are as follows:
- Dry, soft cloth
A generic cloth can come in handy, especially when you suspect excess moisture or dirt on your hearing aids. In-The-Ear (ITE) and Receiver in the Canal (RIC) hearing aids are more susceptible to wax problems due to their placement deep within the ear canal
- Drying/Dehumidifying unit
Whether it’s in the form of a handy little bag or a specialized, high-tech electronic drying station, a safe place to store and dry your hearing aids is a vital tool to have. Some of the options are here.
Daily Hearing Aid Care
There are certain little things that you can do each and every day that will really improve the maintenance of your hearing aid. Let’s take a look at a few:
“For hearing aid wearers whose devices use traditional hearing aid batteries, a simple battery testing device (as above) is a useful tool to start the day with. Most batteries will last a week or two, however, it’s always a good idea to keep on top of their charge in case you get stranded without enough power. As an added tip, it’s good practice to keep an extra set of batteries on your person if you know you’re going to be out for a while.”
Clean & Dry
“Whether it’s first thing in the morning or last thing at night, it’s absolutely imperative to keep your hearing aids clean at all times. Use a dry, soft cloth to get rid of pesky dust, grime and dirt and your ears will certainly appreciate it!
After long day hearing aids collect moisture and dirt: that’s why it’s a good idea to invest in a drying or dehumidifying unit that removes it overnight. If you’re active during the day, then it could be useful to remove the batteries and keep the battery door open to dehumidify the inside too.”
“Even though it’s likely your hearing aids were programmed at the dispensary by your audiologist or doctor, it’s nevertheless important to make sure that your devices provide crystal clear sound every day. You can use a hearing aid listening tube to check the sound of your hearing aids – they’re relatively simple devices that resemble a stethoscope, only designed to measure the ambient sound of your hearing aids. If you discover any feedback or whistling noises, then it can be worthwhile to take your devices back into the dispensary/audiologist.”
Weekly Hearing Aid Care
Over the course of the week, it’s likely that earwax accumulates in your hearing aids, especially if you use them regularly. The aforementioned forced air blower is a great little tool for getting rid of excess wax, and you can also invest in a small pick and brush to help get rid of any annoying residue.
For those of us who wear Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids, it’s a good idea to keep your earmolds as clean as possible. Usually they can be removed and soaked in warm water, but you should always try and make sure that they’re thoroughly dried before further use.
- Submerge your hearing aid in water. It may go without saying, but for electronic devices, this is a sure-fire way to break them.
- Use alcohol or baby wipes on your devices, as chemical damage is a likely outcome.
- Use a hair dryer to dry out your devices. The excess heat and dust is liable to do more harm than good.
Earwax: A Guide to Keeping Your Hearing Aids Wax-Free
Also known by the medical term ‘cerumen’, earwax is a naturally occurring substance that has antibacterial and lubricating properties, protecting your ears from germs and dirt. Unfortunately, it can often be produced in excess, which can lead to complications, especially in later age.
It’s recommended that you do not use cotton buds or any foreign object to remove wax. This can result in impacted wax – when the wax becomes forced together into a lump of solid mass – which in turn can be difficult to remove without a specialist. Instead, you should use ear oil to displace the wax: this can be done once each day before you sleep for a week (or longer if necessary).
Remember that with hearing aids, you’re regularly blocking your ears. This means that wax build-up is far more likely, as the normal route that wax would take out of your ears is otherwise occupied. For this reason, it’s a good idea to invest in wax guards or filters. These should be replaced approximately every six months. If your devices have tubes, you may see some build-up occur inside. You should contact your audiologist to learn how to safely remove and clean these parts, as each brand will differ.
Why are my hearing aids whistling?
Sometimes, your hearing aids will produce a high-pitched whistle or feedback sound. There are a number of reasons for this, including:
- Earwax Build-Up: Accumulation in the ear canal or hearing can cause whistling noises. Try and clean them if you can, however, for a full earwax removal, you should contact a specialist such as this.
- Volume: It’s possible that if your hearing aids are turned up beyond the recommended level, that they pick up feedback noises from amplified sounds. Try turning the volume down, and, failing that, consider booking an appointment with your audiologist to see if your hearing has altered over time.
- Ear Mould: As our weights fluctuate, our body changes. This can result in ill-fitting ear moulds, which will require a refit.
Why is the sound so low?
If your sound is consistently low, then you should check two things: your battery and programming. If the battery is often low (and you use traditional batteries), then a tester can be a useful tool to check if they need replacing. Similarly, if your hearing aids are rechargeable then it could be a good idea to give them a charge.
Programming can also be an issue, it’s possible that as your hearing changes then the settings that you used to use are no longer valid. In this case, you should book an appointment with your audiologist in order for them to be reattuned.