How to Care forYour Hear­ing Aids

The Weekly Vista - - News - NWA DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE­ter­hearingand­bal­

You bought your hear­ing aids a few months ago and now they seem to be on the fritz. Don’t be alarmed. Chances are they just need some rou­tine pro­fes­sional care.

The in­ner ear canal is 100 per­cent hu­mid and re­mains a con­stant 98 de­grees. Ear­wax is a com­bi­na­tion of salt and cor­ro­sive body acids. These con­di­tions are harm­ful to elec­tron­ics. But with proper care and clean­ing, you will not only help keep your hear­ing aids func­tion­ing prop­erly and pre­vent the need for re­peated re­pairs, but you will also pro­long the life of your hear­ing aids.

Here are a few tips on tak­ing care of your hear­ing aids:

In­vest in a hear­ing aid de­hu­mid­i­fier: An ab­so­lutely in­dis­pens­able in­vest­ment, a de­hu­mid­i­fier helps dry out the dig­i­tal cir­cuitry in­side your hear­ing aids. Hear­ing aids tend to eas­ily gather mois­ture—sweat from around the ear, ear­wax or hu­mid­ity in your en­vi­ron­ment. Don’t for­get to re­move your hear­ing aids be­fore hit­ting the sheets and place them in the de­hu­mid­i­fier (re­move bat­ter­ies first). De­hu­mid­i­fiers don’t cost a bun­dle and they can add years of use­ful life to your hear­ing aids. They will also re­duce the need for re­pairs as mois­ture build up is a com­mon rea­son hear­ing aids are sent to the man­u­fac­turer for re­pair.

Clean away ear wax: Ear wax, along with mois­ture, is a com­mon rea­son hear­ing aids are sent in for re­pair. Ear wax as well as dirt and grime can work its way into hear­ing aids (par­tic­u­larly cus­tom in-the-ear hear­ing aids) and can gum up the cir­cuitry, clog the hear­ing aid speaker or mi­cro­phone, and cause less than peak per­for­mance. The first step when hear­ing aids are re­moved should be to wipe down the out­side casing with a soft cloth to re­move any wax, de­bris or oils. Of­ten times, wax is sim­ply on the outer casing and can be wiped away. Ear­molds can be re­moved from the hear­ing aids and cleaned with a mild soap so­lu­tion. Dry them care­fully us­ing a forced air blower (not a hair dryer). Be sure they are dry be­fore reat­tach­ing them to the hear­ing aids. With proper care and clean­ing you can re­duce the neg­a­tive ef­fects of ear­wax on your hear­ing aids. Clean the hear­ing aid’s mi­cro­phone screens: Some of the prob­lems that may oc­cur with de­bris-filled mi­cro­phone cov­ers are de­creased over­all vol­ume and de­creased di­rec­tional mi­cro­phone ef­fec­tive­ness. If your hear­ing aid’s mi­cro­phones are clogged with de­bris, they won’t pick up the sounds around you clearly. To clean your mi­cro­phone screens, first wipe away any ob­vi­ous de­bris or ear­wax from the mi­cro­phone area. Then check to see if the screen cov­er­ing your mi­cro­phone ap­pears to be clogged. Although ear­wax is not as likely to plug mi­cro­phones, it can be a fac­tor for wear­ers who use com­pletely-in-the-canal (CIC) hear­ing aids as they are fit deeper within the ear canal. If there ap­pears to be de­bris within the mi­cro­phone screen, make an ap­point­ment to see your hear­ing pro­fes­sional

as they can ei­ther clean the mi­cro­phone screen with safe clean­ing tools and/or re­place the screen in of­fice.

Re­place BTE hear­ing aid tubing: All BTE hear­ing aids con­nect to some sort of ear­mold by way of plas­tic tubing. Over time this soft flex­i­ble tubing can crack or be­come hard, which af­fects the acous­ti­cal ef­fec­tive­ness of the tubing. In other words, the sound may be muf­fled and you could pos­si­bly ex­pe­ri­ence whistling. If the tubing be­tween the ear­mold and BTE hear­ing aid ap­pears to have hard­ened or is dis­col­ored (yel­low­ish) it is time to see your hear­ing pro­fes­sional for a quick tubing change.

Use wax caps: Many hear­ing aid man­u­fac­tur­ers uti­lize wax caps that snap into the end of ITE hear­ing aids. If ear­wax is a prob­lem for you, this may be an ideal so­lu­tion. These plas­tic caps pop off for easy clean­ing and keep ear­wax from reach­ing the hear­ing aid speaker rest­ing at the edge of the wearer’s ear canal. Dis­cuss this op­tion with your hear­ing pro­fes­sional.

Prac­tice good ear hy­giene: If ear­wax build-up is a prob­lem, pur­chase an over-the-counter ear clean­ing kit that con­tains a wax soft­ener. Do not use cot­ton buds as you will only end up push­ing the wax deeper in­side the ear canal. Ide­ally visit an au­di­ol­o­gist or physi­cian for safe ear­wax re­moval.

Air out your hear­ing aids: If you have not pur­chased a hear­ing aid de­hu­mid­i­fier yet, be sure you to pop open the casing doors of your hear­ing aids. This nat­u­ral air-dry­ing method keeps cir­cuits run­ning smoothly, and lets your hear­ing aids dry out overnight. Plus, it saves on bat­tery life.

Avoid ex­treme heat or cold: Hear­ing aids are sen­si­tive to ex­treme heat and cold tem­per­a­tures. That does not mean you have to rely on weather re­ports to wear them. Try to not let snow touch your hear­ing de­vices when your ski­ing or play­ing sports or do­ing out­door ac­tiv­i­ties like snow blow­ing. Like­wise, don’t leave your hear­ing aids sit­ting in the car or on the porch ex­posed to the sun in the sum­mer.

Check bat­ter­ies: Bat­ter­ies should last about 1 or 2 weeks. Us­ing a bat­tery tester, check that the bat­ter­ies are at full strength so that the hear­ing aids are work­ing at peak per­for­mance. Al­ways keep spare bat­ter­ies.

Hear­ing aids should be checked by a hear­ing health­care pro­fes­sional ev­ery 4 to 6 months. A thor­ough clean­ing and vis­ual in­spec­tion will help you with rou­tine main­te­nance. Your au­di­ol­o­gist may also do a listening check at this ap­point­ment or run the hear­ing aids through di­ag­nos­tic pro­ce­dures to en­sure that the units are work­ing ap­pro­pri­ately. If you are need­ing main­te­nance to your hear­ing aids, call Bet­ter Hear­ing and Balance at 479-657-6464 for an ap­point­ment. Our of­fice pro­vides walk-in ser­vice for pa­tients also, and we can also ser­vice hear­ing aids dur­ing the day while you are run­ning er­rands. For more in­for­ma­tion, see our web­site at

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