Recent research related to hearing aid hygiene has shed new light on how patients need to properly clean their hearing aids and/or earmolds. A wide range of bacteria and fungi have been found to grow on hearing aid surfaces. Some of the germs are consistent with what is normally found in the ear but many of the recovered germs are not and are considered unhygienic. Because the ear is a dark, warm, moist place and hearing aids are worn in the ear, bacteria and other germs can easily grow on hearing aid surfaces. Since some of these bacteria or germs are not part of your ears normal environment, they can potentially irritate the lining of your ear canal, and cause itching, redness, swelling, pain, or result in ear odor.
Because these devices are worn in your ear, it is very important to make sure that your hearing aids or earmolds are cleaned and disinfected properly as follows:
- wipe hearing aid or earmold surfaces with a tissue
- disinfect the hearing aid or earmold surface with a non-alcohol based disinfectant towelette
In addition, hearing aids or earmolds should not be casually placed in purses, pockets, countertops, etc. After use, hearing aids and earmolds should be properly cleaned and disinfected, and then stored in an appropriate case for later use.
Simply wiping the hearing aid with a cloth or tissue is not enough to get rid of the bacteria or germs. In addition, your hearing aids or earmolds are made from special materials that require special cleaning. Alcohol pads should not be used to clean hearing aid or earmold surfaces as it will ruin surfaces relatively quickly. Your audiologists can provide you with non-alcohol products that are designed to disinfect hearing aid surfaces.
Remember: your hearing aids or earmolds will become contaminated with bacteria and other germs. Just like dentures and contacts, it is important to use an appropriate hygiene routine to clean and disinfect hearing aids and earmolds.