With any investment, there is a certain degree of maintenance required to be sure that money is being well spent and the purchase is well kept. A hearing aid is no different. Certain maintenance items should be used only by the manufacturer or your hearing care professional, but there are many other preventative measures that you can complete regularly to ensure that your hearing aid is at full-functioning capacity!
Below we examine three main causes or hearing aid problems and offer cleaning and care tips to help!
Battling Ear Wax
Ear wax is often described as the hearing aid’s worst enemy, and rightfully so as the most common cause for hearing aid repairs across the industry. While ear wax is a healthy, normal occurrence in the ear canal, it can create a number of problems for a hearing aid. The ear canal contains not only the solid or soft components of ear wax but also vapor that can migrate deep into the hearing aid where it can become solid and settle on critical mechanical components.
For example, at Starkey Hearing Technologies, an estimated 60 percent of repairs are caused by wax or foreign material getting into the internal components of the hearing device.
What you can do:
- Clean your hearing aids every morning: In order to prevent wax from clogging critical components of your hearing aids, such as the microphones or receivers, it is important to wipe off the hearing aid each morning. Tissues should not be used if they contain aloe or lotions, and cleaning cloths should be cleaned regularly to avoid re-depositing of wax or other debris. It is best to wipe hearing aids in the morning when the wax has had the opportunity to dry and will be easier to remove.
- Don’t wipe onto the microphone ports: Be careful to not wipe debris onto the microphone ports from another part of the aid.
- Take care of your hearing aid tubing: When hearing aids are fit with either a thin tube or standard-sized earmold tubing, often times you will receive a tool used to clean the tubing when it is removed from the hearing aid itself. This cleaning should be performed regularly in order to prevent wax buildup within the tubing.
Any exposure to water, humidity, condensation or perspiration can cause serious damage to a hearing aid. Starkey hearing aids use Surface™ Nanoshield moisture and wax repellant to help repel water, oils and debris. But as with any technology, nothing is 100 percent safe. If your hearing aids are accidentally exposed to large amounts of moisture, contact your hearing professional right away.
While accidental immersion in a bath or swimming pool can happen, preventative measures can help guard from moisture buildup within the device during normal usage.
- Avoid accidental exposure to water: Remove hearing aids when planning to swim or when planning to interact with large bodies of water. Store hearing aids in their storage case and keep somewhere cool and shady to avoid condensation and overheating.
- Keep a routine: Try to adhere to a routine when it comes to your hearing aids to help avoid accidents. For example, if you typically shower first thing in the morning, always leave your hearing aids in their storage case in the same place every time (not in the bathroom) in order to avoid forgetting to take them out before bathing or accidentally knocking them into the sink or toilet.
- Remove condensation in tubing: Moisture can collect on the inside of earmold tubing through condensation as warm moist air from the ear canal migrates out to the cooler tubing walls exposed to the environment. If moisture is noted in the tubing of a standard BTE hearing aid, a tube blower may be used to force the moisture out of the tubing after removing the tubing from the earhook.
- Open battery doors at night: 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. Ideally, hearing aids should be stored in a dehumidifying container. These serve not only as a safe nighttime storage container but also act as a moisture absorbing environment to help draw moisture from the devices into moisture absorbing crystals or packs. NOTE: follow proper use and maintenance instructions of dehumidifying devices as some may require reactivation or replacement parts after a certain amount of usage.
Avoiding Physical Damage
To prevent damage, hearing aids should be stored in a consistent, safe manner whenever they’re not in use. They should be placed out of the reach of small children and pets, as animals tend to be drawn to the devices due to the lingering human scent.
When damage occurs, gather all components of the hearing device and schedule an appointment with your professional as soon as possible.
If there is damage to the casing, the devices should not be worn 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 such damages can have severe effects on the sound quality of the hearing device.
Make sure to utilize these tips and visit our Hearing Aid Care page to get the most out of your hearing aids and to keep them in optimal working condition!
And don’t forget that your ears need proper cleaning too! Check out our How to Properly Clean and Care for Your Ears blog!