Keeping It Clean- Tips for Maintaining Your Hearing Aids
Hearing aid users- this one is for you.
Hearing aid users- this one is for you.
Hearing aid users- this one is for you. Whether you’ve just been fit with your first set of hearing aids or you’ve been wearing them all your life, it is important to keep on top of your device maintenance so you can make sure you are hearing your best. On average, hearing aids tend to have a lifespan of around 5-7 years. However, this can change if they are not properly maintained. The better you keep on top of your hearing aid maintenance, the longer you can expect them to last.
Every day, your hearing aids are exposed to sweat, dust, earwax, hair product, and dead skin. Gross, right? If that isn’t enough for you to reach for the alcohol swabs, the lasting effects certainly will. Without routine maintenance, the sound level and quality of your hearing aids will diminish over time as the microphones and speakers become clogged. Eventually, if not taken care of, all of this debris will actually damage the hearing aids themselves. The speakers (or “receivers” as they are referred to in the hearing aid world) can short out from moisture and wax, the microphones can become damaged and start to sound staticky, the battery compartment can corrode, and eventually, the electronics inside can fail. Thankfully, all of these issues are avoidable with simple routine cleaning procedures.
If you’re not sure where to start, these simple tips will set you on the path to hearing aids that sound just as good as they did the day you were fit for years to come.
At the end of every day, you should briefly inspect your hearing aids for visible debris. The most common issue will be earwax on the end that inserts into your ear. If there is visible earwax, gently roll the tip in an alcohol wipe to clear it. If you live in a humid environment or produce a lot of sweat, it is a good idea to place your hearing aids in a dehumidifier nightly.
If you have battery operated hearing aids, good options are the Westone Hearing Aid Saver, which passively removes moisture, or the Zephyr Dry & Store Dryer, which combines a desiccant and air circulation to actively dry your hearing aids. Make sure to crack open the battery doors to preserve battery life and prevent corrosion.
If you have rechargeable hearing aids, you can use a desiccant placed in your charging case. Many manufacturers also offer special charging cases that use UV-C light to actively dry and sanitize your hearing aids overnight. Be sure to ask your hearing care provider to learn more about the options available for your aids.
On a weekly basis, use a soft cloth to wipe down the body of your hearing aid. Gently brush over the microphone ports using a small brush.
If you have rubber domes, remove the dome by placing the tip of your finger underneath the dome and rolling it off the tip of the receiver. Roll it in an alcohol wipe to remove any debris. To replace the dome, line it up with the tip of the receiver and roll it back on. Give it a twist to make sure it is secure.
If you have a custom tip or an in-the-ear hearing aid, simply wipe the portion that inserts into your ear with an alcohol wipe. Next, thread a piece of thick dental floss or an interdental pick through the vents to clean them.
For all hearing aids, the tip that goes in your ear will have a white end, called the wax trap. If you have domes, you will need to remove the dome in order to see this piece. Inspect the wax trap for any blockage. You may want to use a magnifying glass if it is too small to see. If there is any visible wax, or if you cannot tell whether or not it is clogged, replace the wax trap. For those who produce a larger amount of earwax, you may need to replace the wax traps more frequently than once a month.
If your device came with stick wax traps:
If your device came with wax traps in a disk like this:
1. After removing the dome, press the tip of the receiver straight into the hole marked with the trash can.
2. Pull it straight out, then insert it into the hole marked with the number 2 and pull it straight out.
3. You can now replace the dome and turn the dial on the disk for a fresh wax trap.
If your device came with wax traps like this:
Even with routine at-home maintenance, it is still important to bring your hearing aids in to your hearing care provider every 3-6 months for a professional deep cleaning, just like you would for your teeth. Even if you brush and floss every day, it is still important to see a dentist for regular cleanings for the health of your teeth and gums. Your hearing aids are no different. At these routine visits, in addition to a deep cleaning of your devices, your hearing care provider will review your performance and make any necessary changes to the programming of your aids.
Once a year, you should return to your hearing care provider for an updated hearing test to monitor for any changes. This way, you can also be sure your hearing aid prescription stays up-to-date. You should also ask your provider to perform a diagnostic test of your devices so you can be sure they are still mechanically performing as they should. Think of this visit the same way as you would your annual car tune-up. Just like your car, you should have regular checks done on your hearing aids to keep them performing well for as long as possible.
Brianna Cole is a second year Doctorate of Audiology student at Arizona State University, where she is co-president of the Student Academy of Audiology chapter. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Science at the University of British Columbia. She started her career in Audiology at Applied Hearing Solutions as Dr. Cliff Olson's direct Audiology Assistant. A hearing aid user herself, Brianna is passionate about helping people hear their absolute best.
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