How to protect your hearing aids on spring break
Got the winter blues? Never fear – spring is right around the corner! And, for those of you who are buried in a snow drift somewhere, spending a week on the beach or in the desert might be just the escape you’re looking for while you wait for those colder climates to thaw.
You’re not alone. According to USA Today, Florida reports out-of-state visitors January through March numbered more than 26 million in 2013. Others head west to states like Arizona where there is a golf course in almost every community and major league baseball teams are getting ready for the regular season.
The warm weather is good for your aching bones and weary psyche, but what about those hearing devices? What effect does a changing climate have on your hearing aids?
It’s hard not to love a sunny, Florida beach, especially when the temperatures can reach the mid 70s during the month of March. If you wear hearing instruments and are taking advantage of Florida’s sandy shores for a quick spring break, make sure to protect your devices from these elements:
- Sand – It feels good between your toes but if you’re helping your favorite grandchild build sand castles, make sure you wash your hands well before handling your hearing aids. Sand and other debris can clog the microphone and tubing, leading to performance problems and possibly permanent damage.
- Water – Any type of moisture can destroy the microphone and receiver of your hearing aids, clog the tubing and cause corrosion. If you’re planning a day at the pool or the beach, turn your hearing aids off and store them safely in their hearing aid case – and make sure to store the case in a cool, dry place.
- Humidity – “The climate in Florida is not only hot, it’s humid!” Audrey Hawley, HAS, BC-HIS, partner at Sound Advice Hearing Solutions in St. Petersburg, Florida said. “Humidity levels can wreak havoc on hearing aids, especially when you move from a controlled air conditioned environment to steamy outdoor temperatures.”
In order to keep your hearing aids dry and working efficiently — while you’re vacationing in Florida or in any environment — Hawley recommends investing in an electric hearing aid dryer, which range in price from $69 to $125. “They’re worth the investment to protect your hearing aids and extend the life of your hearing aids,” she said. “Some dryers even have a built in battery tester and a UV light to disinfect your hearing devices while removing all the moisture. Use your dryer whenever the hearing aids are not in your ears.”
Additionally, Hawley said you should never keep your hearing aids in the bathroom or any other room that is subject to a lot of moisture and recommends you always keep your batteries in a dry place, too.
If you’re not looking forward to fighting college students for a place on the beach in Florida, you might be more inclined to follow your favorite baseball team to Arizona and watch a few Cactus League spring training games. Fifteen of Major League Baseball’s teams prepare for the regular season in the Phoenix area during the latter part of February, March and beginning of April. Temperatures in this state during March average in the mid 70s. If you’re planning a visit to Arizona, keep your hearing devices safe from these elements:
- Heat – While Arizona is famously known for their “dry heat," excessive amounts of it can damage your hearing aids. Make sure to store your devices in their case whenever you take them out – and put it in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving your hearing aids in sunny windows, on outdoor patio tables or in your car.
- Perspiration – Moisture of any kind is damaging to your hearing aids, so if you work up a sweat cheering on the home team, try to keep your hair and ears as dry as possible. If you perspire heavily, it might be worthwhile to invest in a few nylon hearing aid sleeves. These can be purchased from some hearing healthcare professionals or online. They come in a variety of colors and protect your hearing aids from dirt, sweat and other moisture.
- Dust and wind – While you probably won’t be witness to one of Arizona’s famous haboobs while you’re visiting, the wind has been known to kick up a little dust on the ball field from time to time. If you do get caught in the elements, make sure to clean your devices carefully afterward.
“Check the battery and battery compartment for any rust or corrosion,” Dan Trimble M.S., F-AAA, CCC-A, of Metro Hearing in Glendale, Arizona, said. “If you find some, this can mean too much moisture is accumulating. It may be a good idea to have the device cleaned by your provider and start using a dry aid kit or hearing aid dryer each night.”
“Today’s hearing devices are designed to be robust and reliable; however, there are a few things you need to keep in mind,” Trimble added. “Careful daily cleaning should include checking the microphone and speaker for any blockage or build-up. Use a small brush to remove any build-up and be sure to angle the device toward the ground so any debris falls away from the device and not into it.”
Trimble also recommends cleaning the part of your hearing aid that goes into your ear weekly with a disinfecting wipe.
If you do decide to spend a few weeks in a warmer climate before summer begins, make sure to pay your hearing healthcare professional a visit before you go. They may have other suggestions for caring for your hearing devices during your travels. To find a trusted professional in your area, please visit our directory.