Hearing Aid Maintenance

Hearing Aid Maintenance

How to look after your hearing aids?

Hearing aids are revolutionary devices that have transformed the lives of millions around the world. For those with hearing impairments, they are not just tools but vital lifelines to the auditory world, bridging the gap between silence and sound.

Just like any other intricate piece of technology, a hearing aid’s efficiency and lifespan are directly proportional to the care it receives.

Proper hearing aid maintenance ensures that the device performs optimally, giving its user the best possible auditory experience.

Additionally, regular upkeep can save users both time and money in the long run by preventing potential damage and avoiding premature replacements. In this guide, we will delve into the essential steps and best practices to ensure your hearing aid remains in top condition for years to come.

Hearing Aid Maintenance

Daily Cleaning Routine

Proper daily care of your hearing device not only ensures its longevity but also maintains its efficiency. A daily cleaning routine can prevent issues such as sound distortion, reduced volume, or even complete malfunction due to wax or debris buildup.

Your hearing care professional should provide you the tools you need to maintain your hearing aids. Here’s how to keep your hearing aid in top condition every day:

Tools You Will Need for Hearing Aid Maintenance

  • Soft, Dry Cloth: This will be used to gently wipe away any debris or moisture from the surface of the hearing aid.
  • Hearing Aid Cleaning Brush or Soft-bristled Toothbrush: A specialised tool or even a soft toothbrush can effectively remove particles from the microphone and other crevices without causing damage.
  • Wax Pick or Loop: This is crucial for removing earwax that may accumulate on the hearing aid, especially around the speaker.

Step-by-Step Cleaning

  • Turn Off the Hearing Aid: Before you start cleaning, always turn off your hearing aid to ensure safety and prevent any potential damage.
  • Gently Wipe the Exterior: Using the soft, dry cloth, gently wipe the entire surface of the hearing aid to remove any dirt, moisture, or debris.
  • Brush Away Debris: Holding the hearing aid with the microphone facing downward (to ensure debris falls out and not further in), use the brush to gently clean the microphone, speaker, and any other openings.
  • Remove Earwax Build-up: With the wax pick or loop, carefully remove any visible earwax from the hearing aid. Earwax can significantly reduce the effectiveness of the device, so this step is crucial.
  • Inspect the Device: Once cleaned, take a moment to inspect the hearing aid for any signs of damage or wear. This can include checking the tubing, if applicable, for any cracks or discoloration.

Drying

Even if you don’t notice any visible moisture on your hearing device, it’s essential to buy a hearing aid dehumidifiers to ensure it is thoroughly dry. Humidity, sweat, or even small amounts of moisture can damage the internal components over time. Consider placing the hearing aid in a hearing aid dehumidifier container overnight or using a specialised hearing aid dryer. If you don’t have these, ensure the hearing aid is stored in a dry, cool place.

Weekly Maintenance

Proper daily care of your hearing device ensures its day-to-day functionality, but weekly maintenance is just as crucial. This deeper level of care ensures that your device remains in optimal condition over a more extended period. Here’s what you should be doing on a weekly basis:

Deep Cleaning

Even with daily cleaning, some residues or debris might remain or accumulate in areas hard to reach. For a thorough cleaning:

  • Use Specialised Cleaning Solutions: There are cleaning solutions specifically designed for hearing device. Dampen a soft cloth with the solution and wipe the device carefully. Never pour or submerge the hearing aid in the solution.
  • Wipes for Hearing Devices: If you’re on the go or prefer a quicker method, there are special wipes made for hearing devices. They are typically alcohol-free to prevent damage to your device.
  • Ensure Proper Drying: After the deep clean, make sure your hearing aid is thoroughly dried before using it or placing it back in its storage case.

Checking the Battery

Regularly inspecting your hearing aid for signs of wear and tear can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.

  • Physical Examination: Look over the device for any cracks, loose parts, or signs of damage.
  • Listen for Distortions: When wearing your hearing aid, pay attention to any buzzing sounds, volume fluctuations, or other audio distortions. These could be signs that the device needs professional attention.
  • Earwax Buildup: Even with daily cleaning, earwax can accumulate over time. Ensure the ear mold or dome is clear of any significant blockages that could affect sound quality.
Hearing Aid Maintenance

Safe Storage

Ensuring that your hearing aid functions optimally for a long time hinges not just on daily maintenance but also on how you store the device when it’s not in use. Proper storage can prevent accidental damage, extend the lifespan of your hearing aid, and ensure it remains clean and ready for use. Here are some guidelines to follow:
  • Using the Original Case: Most hearing aids come with a protective case designed to fit the device perfectly. This case provides cushioning against physical shocks and has compartments to store essential accessories. Always make it a habit to store your hearing aid in its original case when not in use. The case is also often built to allow air circulation, ensuring the hearing aid remains dry.
  • Keeping Away from Extreme Temperatures: Extreme temperatures, be it too hot or too cold, can have adverse effects on the hearing aid’s battery and internal components. Avoid storing your hearing aid in places like glove compartments in cars, especially on hot days. Similarly, don’t leave it near heaters or vents. A consistent, room temperature environment is ideal for storage.
  • Avoiding Moisture: Moisture is a significant enemy of electronics, and hearing aids are no exception. While storing, make sure the device is in a dry place, away from sources of humidity like bathrooms or kitchens. If you live in particularly humid environments or if your hearing aid is exposed to sweat frequently, consider investing in a dehumidifying container or drying kit. These kits help draw moisture out of the hearing aid, ensuring it remains dry and functions optimally.

Avoiding Common Damaging Agents

Hearing aids are intricate devices that, while designed to be durable, can be vulnerable to certain damaging agents. Taking precautions to avoid these hazards can greatly extend the lifespan of your hearing aid and ensure it operates at peak performance.

Water and Moisture

  • Why It’s Harmful: Water can seep into the internal components of the hearing aid, leading to malfunctions or permanent damage. Moisture build-up can also corrode the battery or other parts.
  • Prevention Tips:
    • Never submerge your hearing aid in water.
    • Remove the hearing aid before showering, bathing, or swimming.
    • If the hearing aid gets wet, turn it off, remove the battery, and dry it thoroughly using a soft cloth. Consider investing in a hearing aid dehumidifier for such situations.
    • Avoid storing the hearing aid in humid areas, like bathrooms.

Chemicals

  • Why It’s Harmful: Many chemicals, especially those in beauty products like hairsprays or lotions, can damage the outer shell or internal components of the hearing aid. They may also leave a residue that hampers the device’s function.
  • Prevention Tips:
    • Always remove your hearing aid when applying hair products, perfumes, or lotions.
    • If you believe your hearing aid has come into contact with chemicals, clean it immediately using the recommended cleaning methods.
    • Store your hearing aid away from places where it might be exposed to chemicals, like on a bathroom counter.

Drops and Physical Damage

  • Why It’s Harmful: Dropping a hearing aid can dislodge internal components or crack its outer shell, compromising its function or protection against other damaging agents.
  • Prevention Tips:
    • Always handle your hearing aid with care. When removing or inserting the hearing aid, do so over a soft surface, like a bed or a towel, to cushion any accidental drops.
    • Invest in a protective case and ensure the hearing aid is stored in it when not in use.
    • If you believe your hearing aid has suffered a significant impact, have it checked by a professional to ensure it’s still functioning correctly.

Regular Professional Check-ups

Caring for your hearing aid at home is essential, but regular professional check-ups play an equally vital role in ensuring the longevity and optimal performance of your hearing device itself. Here’s why:
  1. Expert Assessment: No matter how meticulous you are with your at-home cleaning routine, professionals have specialized tools and expertise to thoroughly assess and clean your hearing aid. They can remove any stubborn debris or wax build-up that might be affecting the device’s performance.
  2. Calibration and Adjustments: Over time, your hearing needs might change, or the hearing aid might drift from its initial settings. During a professional check-up, the audiologist can recalibrate your hearing aid to ensure it’s perfectly tailored to your current hearing profile.
  3. Software Updates: Like any modern device, hearing aids can benefit from software updates. These updates can enhance the functionality, improve battery life, or fix known issues. Regular visits ensure you have the latest software running on your device.
  4. Inspection for Internal Damage: While you can check the external parts of your hearing aid for any signs of wear and tear, an audiologist or hearing aid specialist can inspect the internal components. They can identify any potential issues before they become significant problems, saving you time and potential replacement costs in the future.
  5. Feedback and User Experience: Check-ups are also an excellent opportunity for you to provide feedback on your hearing aid’s performance. If you’ve experienced any discomfort, feedback, or other issues, the specialist can offer solutions or adjustments to enhance your auditory experience.
  6. Recommendations: Technology is always advancing. During your visits, the professional can inform you about the latest advancements in hearing aid technology, new features, or even recommend a newer model that might better suit your needs.
Incorporating regular professional check-ups into your hearing aid care routine is a proactive step towards take your hearing aids, preserving its functionality and ensuring you get the best auditory experience. It’s not just about maintenance; it’s about optimising the device to suit your ever-evolving needs.

Knowing When to Replace Parts or the Entire Device

Lifespan of Hearing aids, like most electronic devices, have a finite lifespan.
On average, a well-maintained hearing aid can last anywhere from 5 to 7 years. Several factors can influence this duration, including the type of hearing aid, how well it’s cared for, the amount of wear and tear it undergoes, and advances in technology that might make older models obsolete.

Signs of Wear and Tear Routine care and cleaning can significantly prolong the life of your hearing aid, but over time, signs of wear and tear will inevitably appear. Here are some indicators that parts or the entire device might need replacing:

Weekly Maintenance
  • Inconsistent Sound Quality: If you’re frequently experiencing distorted sound, dropping sound, or changes in volume levels without adjusting them, these could be indicators of internal problems.
  • Physical Damage: External damages, like cracks in the casing or fraying wires, can impact the device’s performance.
  • Frequent Repairs: If you find yourself constantly needing repairs or battery replacements more often than usual, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to replace parts or the entire device.
  • Feedback Issues: Occasional feedback (whistling sounds) can be normal, but if it becomes persistent and isn’t resolved by adjusting the fit, it could be a sign of internal damage.
  • Difficulty in Adjusting Settings: If the hearing aid no longer adjusts to your preferred settings or if the settings don’t seem to work effectively, it might be time to consult with your audiologist.
Upgrades and Technological Advancements Even if your hearing aid is in perfect working condition, there are times when considering an upgrade to modern hearing aids is beneficial. Here’s why:
  • New Features: Advances in technology introduce new features that can significantly enhance the user experience. These might include better noise-cancellation, connectivity to smartphones, or more discrete designs.
  • Improved Sound Quality: Newer models often come with improved sound processing capabilities, offering clearer and more natural sound.
  • Better Battery Life: As technology progresses, many hearing aids offer longer battery life or even rechargeable options, reducing the hassle of frequent battery replacements.
  • Personal Needs: Your hearing needs can change over time. An upgrade might be necessary to cater to any changes in your hearing profile or lifestyle.

It’s always a good idea to regularly consult with your hearing care professional or audiologist. They can provide guidance on the current state of your device, advise on potential replacements, and inform you about the latest advancements in hearing aid technology.

Caring for your hearing aid is more than just a routine—it’s an essential step in preserving the quality of your hearing and prolonging the life of your device. Just as we maintain our other valuable possessions, such as our cars and electronic devices, we must also ensure our hearing aids are in top condition. This not only guarantees optimal performance but also safeguards the significant investment you’ve made in your auditory health.

By adhering to a regular cleaning schedule, storing the device properly, avoiding potential hazards, and seeking professional guidance when needed, you’re doing your part in ensuring that you experience the world around you with clarity and precision.

DISCLAIMER

The content provided in this material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute the advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified Audiologist or Hearing Care Professional. This information should not be used as a sole source for making decisions about your hearing health or related concerns. We strongly encourage you to consult with a licensed Audiologist or Hearing Care Professional to discuss your individual needs, concerns, and options before making any decisions or taking any actions that may impact your hearing health. The author and publisher of this content expressly disclaim any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, that may be incurred as a result of the use or application of any information provided herein.