Guide to Hearing Aid Maintenance
When we think about technology that has significantly changed the way we live, it’s unlikely that hearing aids make it onto the list. And yet, the growth of hearing aids in the 20th century, along with the field of audiology after World War II, has ascended alongside other devices, such as telephones and personal computers.
In some ways, this makes sense. Hearing loss is an invisible condition, and its treatment – hearing aids – brings optimal benefits when they are working properly and can be “forgotten” when worn. However, in the same way that we must care for all of our sophisticated technology, hearing aids require regular maintenance to ensure proper functionality.
Whether you are new to hearing aids or you’ve been using them for years, there’s no denying the incredible benefits they bring to your life. Hearing aids are inserted at the beginning of the day and off you go into your active life, experiencing full, rich sound. At the end of the day, hearing aids are taken off and stored before bed. While these hardy devices withstand a lot of wear-and-tear throughout the day, they are pretty low-maintenance when it comes to care.
Hearing aids have a shelf life of about five to seven years. With proper care, your hearing aids should serve you well during this time. Here, we provide a handy guide for hearing aid maintenance, care tips, and troubleshooting.
Tips for Hearing Aid Care
1) Moisture is the Enemy!
As with most electronic devices, moisture is the enemy. It might go without saying, but be sure to remove your hearing aids before jumping into the shower or the pool! It’s also a good idea to remove your hearing aids before washing your face.
2) Remove Your Aids Before Styling Your Hair
At the salon, barbershop, or at home, remove your hearing aids before using hairspray or other hair products to avoid damage or clogging. The same goes for using a hair dryer!
3) Store Your Hearing Aids in a Safe, Dry Place
Kids and pets are notorious for getting into our things, and hearing aids could look like a fun toy. In addition to being a choking hazard, hearing aids could be damaged if handled roughly. If you’re removing your hearing aids at the gym or the beach, make sure that you have a safe, dry container in which to store them. If outdoors, avoid storing your aids in your car during extreme heat or cold.
4) Don’t Tackle Major Problems Alone
If your hearing aids are not functioning properly beyond a simple at-home cleaning, leave the repair jobs for your hearing professional. Don’t take apart your hearing aids and tinker with the electronic components, which could further damage your devices.
Useful Hearing Aid Maintenance Tools
- Hearing aid listening tube
- Battery tester
- Dry, soft cloth
- Wax pick & brush
- Forced air blower
- Drying/Dehumidifying unit
Daily Hearing Aid Care
Though your hearing aids are programmed by your audiologist at Greentree Audiology, it is important to make sure that your devices are providing clear sound on a daily basis. Before inserting your hearing aids in the morning, use a hearing aid listening tube to check the sound produced from your hearing aids. Hearing aid listening tubes allow you to check the sound from your hearing aids and ensure that it is clear. They’re simple devices that usually cost under $20. Look out for any feedback or whistling noises, as these could indicate a problem with your aids.
For users who utilize traditional hearing aid batteries, battery testers are a great tool to use at the beginning of day. Most traditional hearing aid batteries last a week or two, but if you’re not keeping track of when you replace them, battery testers come in handy.
You’ll want to make sure that your batteries have enough juice to take you through the day. (It’s always good practice to carry an extra set of batteries with you if you plan on being out and about for long stretches of time!)
Clean & Dry
Before bed, or in the morning before inserting your hearing aids, check to make sure that your hearing aids are clean. Your ears will thank you too! Use a dry, soft cloth to clean dust, grime, and dirt from your hearing aids.
After a full day of wear, hearing aids can collect moisture. Invest in a drying or dehumidifying unit that removes moisture overnight. If you were active during the day or live in a warm climate, it might be useful to remove the batteries and keep the battery door open to help them air out.
Weekly Hearing Aid Care
Earwax may accumulate in your hearing aids with regular use. Use a wax pick and brush to gently remove any earwax from your devices. Forced air blowers are also useful for cleaning dust and lint out of the small nooks and crannies of your hearing aids.
If you use behind-the-ear hearing aids, it’s important to keep your earmolds clean. Earmolds can be removed (ask us at Greentree Audiology for a tutorial) and soaked in warm, soapy water. Let the earmolds dry completely before using them again.
- Under no circumstances should you submerge your entire hearing aid in water.
- Do not use alcohol or baby wipes to clean your hearing aids, as the chemicals could damage your devices.
- Do not use a hair dryer to dry your hearing aids.
Ear Wax: How to keep your hearing aids wax free
Ear wax is a naturally-produced substance that protects your ear from bacteria, dirt, and even insects! We recommend that you do not use cotton swabs to remove ear wax from your ears, as that could cause an issue with impaction. That being said, most hearing aid wearers are aware of the buildup of ear wax on their hearing aids.
Ear wax can be cleaned with a wax pick and brush. Depending on the type of hearing aid you use, your devices might have built-in wax guards or filters. It is recommended that wax guards are replaced every six months. If your hearing aids have tubes, you might see an accumulation of wax in these parts as well. Our team at Greentree Audiology can show you how to safely remove these parts to clean out any accumulated ear wax.
Troubleshooting Your Hearing Aids
Why are my hearing aids whistling?
If your hearing aids producing a high-pitched whistle or feedback sound, this could be due to a number of issues.
- Volume: If your hearing aids are turned up to full volume, the microphone on the aid might be picking up feedback from the amplified sounds from the hearing aid. Try turning down the volume to see if that helps. If you consistently have your hearing aid volume turned up to the max, consider taking a hearing test to see if your hearing abilities have changed.
- Poorly-fitted ear mold: Our bodies are always changing, and that includes your ears! If you’ve lost or gained weight, your ear molds may not fit properly, even if they did when you first got your hearing aids. Visit us for a refitting to see if that helps.
- Ear wax: Ear wax accumulation, whether in your ear canal or in the hearing aid, could cause whistling noises. Clean out any ear wax in your devices, and visit us for safe ear wax removal.
Why is the sound so low?
One common culprit is the battery. If you use traditional batteries, use your battery tester to check. If your hearing aids are rechargeable, you might want to give them a charge in their recharging station.
If it’s not a battery issue, it could be an issue with the programming. We can help you figure out the issue at Greentree Audiology.
When to visit us at Greentree Hearing & Audiology
While it’s important for you to perform daily maintenance on your hearing aids, leave the big problems to us. If your hearing aids consistently malfunction, cut out, whistle, or don’t provide the benefit they once did, contact us to schedule an appointment for hearing aid maintenance.