Hearing aids are precision instruments that require proper maintenance. If you take care of them properly, they can serve you well for many years. Here is a brief summary of the most important issues, followed by detailed recommendations for getting the best long-term results.
Keys to Effective Hearing Aid Maintenance
- Protect hearing aids from heat, cold, and moisture
- Replace dead batteries promptly
- Follow manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance instructions
- Do not apply hair spray or use a hair dryer while wearing hearing aids
- Handle your hearing aids with care and try not to drop them
- Turn off hearing aids and when they are not being used
- Store with battery compartments open
- Store in a dry, safe place away from children and pets
- Schedule maintenance by your hearing professional every 4-6 months
Avoid moisture and store in a dry place
Your hearing aids contain sophisticated technology in a tiny shell. Exposure to moisture can cause serious damage. Although most of today’s hearing aids are water resistant, avoid prolonged exposure to moisture and remove them when showering or swimming. Also protect them from rain. If they do come in contact with water, dry them immediately with a cloth or paper towel. Never attempt to dry them with a hair drier or other heated device because the high heat can damage them. Do not store them in a bathroom because the air is typically moist. If you live in a humid area, consider storing your hearing aids in a hearing aid dehumidifier, available from your hearing health professional. Also, do not try to lubricate any part of your hearing aids.
Keep away from heat and cold
Avoid leaving your hearing aids in direct sunlight, in the glove compartment, or elsewhere in your automobile on warm or very cold days, or near a radiator or other heating device. Do not use a hair dryer or curler while wearing hearing aids. And do not expose them to extreme cold. Hearing aids struggle to work at low temperatures, making them less effective and leading to a shorter battery life. Store batteries at normal room temperature whenever possible and when you take spares with you in cold weather, carry them in an internal pocket where they can share your body heat.
Avoid sprays and powders
Remove your hearing aids before using hair spray, spray perfume, shaving lotion, insect repellant, powder, or other cosmetics. All of these can damage or clog the tiny tubes and components in your hearing devices.
Protect from medical scans
Remove your hearing aids before medical procedures that utilize scanning—such as CT and MRI scans. Scanners at airports will not damage your hearing aids.
Replace batteries promptly
Replace batteries as soon as they show signs of decreased power or failure. Use the correct battery size for your hearing aid. If you use zin-air batteries, let them sit outside your hearing aids for at least two minutes after you remove the battery tab and before you insert them. This will insure that the batteries charge fully and give you the longest possible battery life. All batteries, including hearing aid batteries, can cause damage to devices if left in them for an extended period. Trapped moisture can cause the batteries to corrode and possibly leak harmful chemicals. Always open the battery doors when the devices are not being used. If you will not be using your devices for more than a day, remove the batteries entirely. Dirty battery contacts on your devices can create a poor connection and lower performance. So it’s a good idea to clean the battery contacts when you change the batteries by gently wiping them with a dry cotton swab.
Keep devices free of earwax
Earwax is one of the leading causes of decreased performance in hearing aids. Earwax can accumulate in the opening and at the end of a hearing aid where the sound comes out, causing muffled sound or feedback (whistling). Left long enough, it can damage the receiver. That’s why it’s important to clean them frequently. After each day of wearing your hearing aids, gently remove any earwax or debris that may be on the device by gently brushing them with one of the small brush and pick devices made for this purpose. These cleaning devices are typically provided by the manufacturer and may also be purchased online. Remember to clean both the receiver and microphone. Avoid using alcohol or solvents to clean them. Once each week, carefully inspect your hearing aids and double-check to make sure they are completely clear of earwax and debris.
Change your wax filter regularly
In addition to removing earwax from your device, you will also need to replace the wax filter or guard whenever you see wax beginning to collect on it or if you notice a reduction in sound volume. The filter prevents wax from reaching the internal components of the hearing aid and damaging them. Different devices use different filters. Your audiologist can tell you which one to use and show you how to change it on your specific device.
Keep your ears clean
The natural flow of earwax and the normal pH inside your ear canals normally do the job of keeping your ears clean and clear of debris. However, if you think you may have dry ear canal skin or tend to collect dry wax inside your ears, talk to your ear health specialist about ways you can safely help your ears stay clean and healthy.
Handle with care
Hearing devices are far more durable than they once were, but they still should be handled with care. Make sure your hands are clean before handling your hearing aids and always hold them securely to avoid dropping them. When changing the batteries or cleaning them, set them on a soft surface such as a towel and hold each device over the towel while you are working with it just in case you drop it. When they are not in use, store them with the battery door open. It’s best to store them in a small container kept in a safe place. And make sure they are never within reach of children or animals.
Be careful at the beach
A day at the beach can present significant challenges. You expose your hearing aids to saltwater, sand, sunscreen, and other chemicals that can seriously damage them. Saltwater can leave salt crystals inside your hearing aids, sand can block the microphone ports, and sunscreen and other chemicals can damage the plastic housing that protects hearing aid components. If you can avoid wearing them at the beach, that is ideal. Otherwise, avoid touching them if your hands are sandy, remove them before applying sunscreen, and keep them away from seawater.
Schedule routine maintenance
While regular cleaning and proper care at home can greatly improve the life of your hearing aids, you should periodically bring them to a professional for routine maintenance. It’s like taking your car to a mechanic for scheduled service. A professional may spot something that is in need of repair or important maintenance you may have missed. They can also make adjustments to your devices to better suit your current needs. You should schedule a device inspection and cleaning with your hearing professional every 4-6 months, or immediately if you suspect there’s something wrong.
YW Doctors Laboratories was founded by board-certified Ear, Nose, and Throat specialists—Dr. Nina Yoshpe and Dr. Ayal Willner. The company is a developer and manufacturer of specialized products formulated to provide exceptionally safe and effective remedies for common health problems. Comfort Ear™ Natural Moisturizer is a gentle yet effective all-natural product formulated to soothe ear irritation from a variety of causes. For more information, please visit our website at www.comfortear.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.