The leaves are down and the turkey has been carved. You're getting ready to put up the holiday decorations and, in many parts of the country, that means throwing on a hat and gloves to accomplish outdoor chores. It also means protecting your hearing aids as colder weather and the loud sounds emitted by equipment of the season make it necessary for you to take a few extra precautions.
1. Use your memory settings for noise reduction. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, prolonged exposure to noise at a level of more than 85 dB (decibels) can result in permanent hearing loss. For reference, both a snow blower and a snowmobile emit sounds of more than 100 dB. Since hearing aids amplify sounds in your environment and you want to protect your hearing from further noise damage, it's important to adjust your hearing aids accordingly. Check with your hearing aid center or audiologist to see if your hearing aid has memory setting features. If so, ask them to show you how to program one for noise reduction.
2. Protect with earmuffs. If your hearing aids don't have memory settings, consider investing in a pair of noise reduction earmuffs. This stylish addition to your winter wardrobe not only protects your hearing, it can also keep your ears warm while you're enjoying a good skate on the neighborhood pond or ice fishing with your favorite nephew. Depending upon the style you choose, expect to pay anywhere from $10 on up for earmuffs that reduce noise by as much as 30 dB.
3. Buy a pair of sweat bands. To minimize the amount of moisture your behind-the-ear hearing aids are exposed to as a result of perspiration -- or precipitation -- during the winter months, consider investing in hearing aid sweat bands. These accessories are available in a variety of colors and sizes, with an average price of $20 per pair. Most of them are washable and slip on easily, acting as a moisture repellant and providing a wind screen for your microphone. If your hearing aid center doesn't sell them, you can find them easily online.
4. Keep batteries dry. Hearing aid batteries are adversely affected by changes in temperature, so it's extremely important to keep the battery compartment dry and free from moisture. Inspect your hearing aid before you turn it off at night, making sure to remove the batteries and wipe the battery compartment thoroughly with a warm, dry cloth before storing.
5. Purchase a dehumidifier. If you live in an environment where the temperatures dip below freezing, you'll want to protect your hearing aids from the cold weather. Extreme changes in temperature can cause condensation inside the instrument, which can keep it from functioning properly. Consider investing in a hearing aid dehumidifier if you haven't already done so. This inexpensive piece of equipment can help prolong the life of your hearing aids by safely and effectively removing moisture overnight as you sleep. Dehumidifiers range in price from $5 to $100 and can be purchased online or in most drug stores.