Your new hearing aids may be the tiniest piece of technology you own, but they also may be the most important. With a minimal amount of daily care, they should provide you with quality service for years to come.
Like the rest of the equipment you depend upon -- such as automobiles and household appliances – a gentle cleaning does wonders to keep things running smoothly. Hearing aids are no exception.
If your hearing center didn’t provide you with a wax pick, brush (and a blower if you wear a BTE model), consider making the investment. These are the tools you’ll need to keep your hearing aid clean and free of earwax. You’ll also want a dry place to store your hearing aids when you’re not wearing them, such as the box they came in or other suitable container.
Your audiologist or hearing health professional will give you detailed instructions on how to care specifically for the make and model you’ve purchased, but here are a few general care tips to keep in mind.
Most importantly, keep your ears clean and free from earwax. Remember -- never stick anything into your ear canal, such as a hairpin or cotton swab. These objects only push the wax deeper into your ear and, in extreme cases, puncture your ear drum. If gentle, daily cleaning with a wash cloth doesn’t prevent earwax build, consult your doctor or audiologist for help.
When you remove your hearing aids each day, wipe them off with a clean, dry cloth or tissue. Do not use alcohol swabs or cleaning solvents as these may damage the material your hearing aid is made of. Your hearing center professional can recommend special sprays specifically designed to clean and disinfect hearing aids, if you prefer.
Here’s a tip: apply any hair products – such as sprays or gels -- and face creams before you put your hearing aids in for the day. If you wash your face with a cleanser at night, take your hearing aids out before you do. These materials can clog the microphone and may also be damaging to the plastic material.
It’s important to keep your hearing aids free of earwax. This yellow substance, also called cerumen, can clog the microphone and receiver, blocking the sound to your ear. Large amounts of earwax can create a crackling, static or feedback sound.
If you own an ITE (in the ear) model:
Check it thoroughly after you remove it each day. If you see any earwax, use the wax pick to gently remove it.
If you wear a BTE (behind the ear) model:
Examine the unit for any earwax and remove what you find with the wax pick. Remove the earmold from the hook and clean it in soapy water. Use the blower to force the water out of the tube and place the tubing in a safe place to dry overnight.
Finally, before you store your hearing aids for the day, open the battery compartment, remove the batteries and brush the compartment with the cleaning brush. Replace the batteries and keep the compartment open while they are stored. Any moisture that may have accumulated will dry overnight and your batteries will last longer.
You also may want to consider investing in a hearing aid dehumidifier. They aren’t expensive and will effectively dry the internal components of your devices overnight while you sleep. Since moisture build-up is one of the primary reasons for repair, investing in a dehumidifier may prolong the life of your hearing aids.
One word of caution: be careful when you handle your hearing aids, especially the first few times. Consider spreading a towel or other soft item beneath you when you insert and remove them, as dropping them on hard surfaces, such as countertops and tile floors, can damage them.