How to Maintain your Hearing Aid
Hearing aids provide a great benefit to millions of people worldwide. They have progressed considerably in the last few years. They can now be specifically tailored for all different lifestyles, and to improve many types of hearing loss.
Like any piece of technology, however, they need a little care and maintenance to sustain their performance and longevity for as long as possible.
Hearing aids tend to be worn for extended durations each day which can put stress on the electrical components of the device. They are placed in constant warm temperature, in contact with earwax, and regularly exposed to the elements along with perspiration and oils from the body. These substances can decrease the working quality of the aid by blocking the sound delivery pathways and eroding the components.
Heat, humidity and foreign particle buildup can alter the performance or even prevent hearing aids from working altogether. Daily cleaning is essential for hygiene, preservation, and avoiding infection.
Hearing aid failure can be very frustrating and can significantly interrupt your day. It is unpredictable and can happen at the most inopportune moments, but taking some time each day to care for your aids can reduce these breakdowns.
Not all hearing aid failures are preventable, and sometimes it may be necessary to send your device away for repair. You should always seek out a reputable repair specialist to work on your hearing aid as it can alter your warranty if you don’t.
How to clean your hearing aid
There are many different types and styles of hearing aids, and they all require a slightly different cleaning regime.
It is important to keep the aids clean and free of wax. Wax is an integral part of the ear, and it does tend to accumulate in and around hearing aids. Cleaning them on a regular basis will help to keep the wax out and sound coming through clearly. Nearly all hearing aids on the market today have an inbuilt filter or guard to prevent wax entering the aid and damaging it. Check the wax guard regularly, remove the wax buildup, and replace if necessary.
Ear moulds that don’t contain a speaker can be washed when detached from the hearing aid. Ear moulds WITH speakers can’t be washed as contact with water will damage them.
Below are some cleaning tips specific to different types of hearing aids. Before attempting to clean your device, we recommend consulting your user manual and/or hearing healthcare practitioner, as many models have specific requirements.
Behind-The-Ear hearing aid (BTE)
- Detach and wash earmoulds with mild soap and water (only if ear moulds are separate from the speaker).
- Dry them thoroughly and if there is any water in the tubing use an air blower or compressed air spray to dry.
- The processor should only be wiped down with a dry, soft cloth.
- Remember to keep left and right earmoulds separate, so that when you replace them they are correct.
- Check the wax filter, remove wax buildup and replace if necessary. It is recommended to change the wax filter at least every six months. It may need to be replaced before if sounds are not coming through your aid correctly, even after cleaning the filter.
- If you have a device where the receiver is contained within the earmold, do not wash. This will ruin the electronics and possibly void the warranty.
- The tubing on a BTE aid needs to be replaced if it is getting hard, cracking or turning yellow.
In-The-Ear (ITE), In-The-Canal hearing aids (ITC) and Completely-In-Canal (CIC)
- Remove the hearing aids and clean the body with a soft, clean cloth.
- A brush with a wax cleaning loop can come in handy when cleaning your aid. The brush will remove any debris from the body of the device, and the wax loop can be used to pick out anything stuck in the wax filter.
- Check the wax filter, remove wax buildup and replace if necessary. It is recommended to change the wax filter every six months. It may need to be replaced before if sounds are not coming through your aid correctly, even after cleaning the filter.
- The electronics are installed directly in the shell of these hearing aids so remember to be careful. Holding and cleaning them over a soft surface can help to prevent damage if they are dropped.
- If silicone tips are present instead of ear moulds, these should be replaced around once a month, along with being cleaned daily.
- Remove the hearing aids and clean the body with a soft, clean cloth. Wipe the dome and the wire to make sure all areas are clean and free of dirt and earwax.
- Take the dome off of the end of the speaker and clean any dirt that has collected in and around the speaker.
- Check the wax filter on the speaker, remove wax buildup and replace if necessary. It is recommended to change the wax filter every six months. It may need to be replaced before if sounds are not coming through your aid correctly, even after cleaning the filter.
- Carefully check each dome for tears, hardening or discolouring. If any of these are present then you may need to replace your domes. Contact your hearing practitioner to source replacements.
- Some invisible hearing aids which sit deep inside the ear canal are too small for a wax filter. So they are not for everyone, someone who makes a lot of earwax may have trouble keeping these clean.
- The body of the aid should be wiped with a clean, soft cloth.
- Holding and cleaning them over a soft surface can help to prevent damage if they are dropped.
- A brush with a wax cleaning loop can come in handy when cleaning your aid. The brush will remove any debris from the body of the device, and the wax loop can be used to pick out anything stuck in the microphone and speaker openings.
Your hearing aid practitioner will give you a detailed rundown on how to properly care for your specific hearing aid.
Further Maintenance Advice
- To take care of your hearing aids, ensure they are in their case when you are not wearing them. Most aids are quite small and easy to misplace. Modern-day hearing aids are sturdy and robust, but they cannot handle improper care.
- Make sure hands are clean and dry when handling your aids as the microphone input can become blocked.
- Alcohol or other cleaning wipes can be damaging to the surface of the aid, and the electronic components inside. You can contact your hearing provider if you would like a recommendation on wipes that you can use with your aid.
- Take care not to drop your aids when inserting or removing them as they may not withstand hard impacts.
- Avoid contact with moisture and water, even if it is stated that your aids are water resistant. Wait until your ears and hair are both dry before inserting your hearing aids. If they do get wet, remove the battery immediately.
- Open the battery door when aids are not in use so battery life is preserved and feedback cannot be picked up, this will also help to ventilate the aid and allow it to dry.
- Do not place your hearing aids on or too close to a heat source and do not leave them in direct sunlight.
- Schedule regular checkups with an audiologist or audiometrist that can physically check your devices.
- One of the biggest causes for repair is moisture and earwax buildup, so keep your aids clean with a soft, dry cloth. Cleaning once per day is good practice.
- You can invest in a good quality drying case; hearing aids are regularly exposed to the elements, perspiration and oils from the body, so routinely drying them can extend the life of your aids.
Do I need a drying case?
Many hearing aid practitioners recommend a good quality drying case to store your aids in overnight. It is not crucial, but it can help to prevent breakdown caused by moisture and debris as they safely remove moisture from the device when not in use.
There are many different models on the market today, some require electricity and others use a gel or desiccant. The most simple form is a sealable container in which you drop your aids at night, along with a drying tablet and leave them while you sleep. The more advanced and expensive options have a UV light which sanitises your aids while drying them. Talk to your audiologist to find out which case is best for your type of hearing aid.
The aids should be clean and free of any wax or oils before being placed in the case, and the battery doors left open. Leaving the battery doors open while they are not in use will also help preserve the battery life of your hearing aids.
Hearing aid batteries
(picture/diagram like the one on google doc – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eWSLaV0FeOHdAMxLdwM6vMOl825MOw6lg14hmj3ucnM/edit?usp=sharing )
There are four common sizes of hearing aid battery, they all have corresponding colours which are fairly universal.
Hearing aid batteries typically last between 3-7 days, depending on factors like:
- Duration of time the aid is worn each day
- The technology used in the device
- The type and size of the aid
- The type and size of the battery
- Battery maintenance
There are some things you can do to keep your batteries going for as long as possible.
- Do not store batteries for too long, the longer they sit unused – the shorter their life.
- Store extra hearing aid batteries at room temperature and away from any moisture.
- The plastic tab on the battery keeps it fresh while it is being stored. Once the tab is removed the battery is activated, so keep it on while it is in storage.
- Remove the batteries if the device won’t be used for an extended period of time. This helps to avoid corrosion and damage from trapped moisture.
You can purchase batteries in many places including supermarkets, pharmacies, online retailers, electronic stores and from your audiologist.
By completing a few small daily tasks and keeping your aid clean you can elongate the lifespan and decrease the need for repair.
If you suspect you, or someone close to you, is suffering from hearing loss, or are unsatisfied with your current hearing aid, click here to book a free hearing test now.