Hearing aids are not just devices; they are lifelines to a world of sound. They connect us to our loved ones, our work, and the ambient symphony of life that surrounds us. As the founder of Kensington Hearing, I’ve seen firsthand how these small devices can make a big difference. But like any piece of technology, they require care and maintenance to function at their best. This article aims to guide you through the process of caring for your hearing aids, ensuring they continue to serve you well for years to come.
Understanding Your Hearing Aids
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of hearing aid care, it’s crucial to understand the basic components of your device. While hearing aids come in various shapes and sizes, they all share some common elements:
- Microphone: This component picks up the sounds from your environment.
- Amplifier: The amplifier boosts the sounds picked up by the microphone.
- Speaker: The speaker delivers the amplified sound into your ear.
- Battery: This powers the whole operation.
Different types of hearing aids may have additional components or features, but these are the basics. Now, let’s look at the main types of hearing aids and their specific care requirements:
Behind-the-Ear (BTE): These are the most common type of hearing aids. They are robust and relatively easy to clean, but the part that sits behind the ear can be exposed to sweat and moisture, which requires careful attention.
In-the-Ear (ITE): These hearing aids are custom-made to fit your ear. They are more discreet than BTE models but can be more susceptible to earwax buildup.
In-the-Canal (ITC) and Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC): These are the smallest and most discreet types of hearing aids. They require careful handling due to their size and are also more prone to earwax buildup.
Each type of hearing aid has its own set of care requirements, but don’t worry – we’ll cover all of them in the following sections. Remember, understanding your device is the first step towards taking good care of it. So, let’s move on to the practical part: daily maintenance.
Hearing aids are like tiny superheroes, working tirelessly to keep you connected with the world of sound. But even superheroes need a little TLC. Here’s how you can provide that much-needed care on a daily basis:
Your hearing aids are exposed to many things: earwax, sweat, dust, and more. It’s essential to keep them clean to ensure they function optimally. Here’s a simple routine you can follow:
Tools Needed: A soft, dry cloth, a wax pick or brush, and a blower can be your best friends in this process. Remember, water is a hearing aid’s arch-nemesis, so keep it away!
Step-by-Step Guide: Start by gently wiping the hearing aid with the dry cloth. Use the wax pick or brush to remove any earwax from the earmold or dome. If your hearing aid has a tube, use the blower to clear it.
Checking for Damages
Every day, take a moment to inspect your hearing aids for any visible damage. This could be anything from cracks in the casing to loose wires. If you spot anything amiss, it’s best to consult with your audiologist or hearing aid provider.
Safe Storage and Handling
When not in use, store your hearing aids in a dry, cool place out of reach from pets and children. Avoid leaving them in humid or hot places like the bathroom or car.
Just like how we have our weekly rituals (Sunday brunch, anyone?), your hearing aids also benefit from a bit of extra care once a week.
Deep Cleaning Procedures
Once a week, it’s a good idea to give your hearing aids a more thorough clean. This involves removing the earmold or dome and cleaning it separately. If your hearing aids are not suitable for this, please consult with your audiologist.
Checking Battery Life and When to Replace Batteries
Batteries are the heart of your hearing aids. Check them weekly to ensure they’re not running low. If your hearing aid seems quieter than usual, or not working at all, it might be time for a battery change.
Checking for Any Changes in Hearing Aid Performance
Every week, take some time to assess your hearing aids’ performance. Are they as effective as they used to be? Are you having trouble hearing in certain situations where you didn’t before? If so, it might be time for a check-up.
Remember, your hearing aids are your gateway to the world of sound. Treat them with care, and they’ll continue to serve you well. After all, a well-maintained hearing aid is a well-performing hearing aid!
As an experienced audiologist and the founder of Kensington Hearing, I’ve seen firsthand the difference that long-term care can make in the lifespan and functionality of hearing aids. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
When to Seek Professional Help for Maintenance
While daily and weekly maintenance can be done at home, there are times when it’s best to seek professional help. If you notice any of the following, it’s time to visit your audiologist:
- Your hearing aid is not working despite changing the batteries.
- You’re experiencing feedback (whistling sounds) from your hearing aid.
- The volume is not as loud as it used to be.
Remember, it’s always better to seek help sooner rather than later to prevent further damage.
Regular Check-ups and Adjustments
Just like you would with your car, regular check-ups and adjustments are essential for your hearing aids. I recommend visiting your audiologist at least once a year for a professional cleaning and check-up. This will ensure that your hearing aids are working optimally and can be adjusted as your hearing needs change.
Signs of Wear and Tear and When to Consider a Replacement
Hearing aids, like any other device, have a lifespan. On average, they last about five to seven years. However, this can vary depending on how well you care for them. Signs that it might be time for a replacement include:
- Frequent repairs are needed.
- Your hearing aid is not providing the level of hearing assistance it once did.
- Your hearing needs have changed and your current hearing aid can no longer meet them.
Tips and Tricks for Extending the Life of Your Hearing Aids
Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that can help extend the life of your hearing aids. Here are some of my favourites:
Best Practices for Handling and Storing Hearing Aids
- Always handle your hearing aids with clean, dry hands.
- When not in use, store your hearing aids in a dry, cool place out of reach from pets and children.
- Consider using a dehumidifier to remove moisture from your hearing aids overnight.
What to Avoid to Prevent Damage
- Avoid exposing your hearing aids to heat and moisture. This means not wearing them in the shower or sauna, and not leaving them in a hot car.
- Do not use hairspray or other hair products while wearing your hearing aids. These can clog up the microphone and damage the device.
- Avoid dropping your hearing aids. Always change batteries or clean your hearing aids over a soft surface to prevent damage if they fall.
How to Handle Common Problems
- If your hearing aid is not working, check the battery first. A dead or improperly inserted battery is often the cause.
- If you’re experiencing feedback, make sure the hearing aid is inserted correctly. If the problem persists, it may be due to wax build-up or a problem with the hearing aid itself.
- If the volume is too low, it could be due to a clogged microphone or speaker. Regular cleaning can prevent this.
Remember, your hearing aids are an investment in your quality of life. Taking the time to care for them properly will ensure they serve you well for years to come.
As we bring this guide to a close, it’s essential to reiterate the importance of proper hearing aid care. Your hearing aids are not just devices; they are your windows to the world of sound, enabling you to connect with your loved ones, enjoy your favourite music, and engage in meaningful conversations.
Just like any valuable asset, they require consistent care and maintenance. This isn’t a chore, but rather a commitment to your auditory health and overall quality of life. Remember, the longevity and performance of your hearing aids are directly proportional to the care you provide.
So, let’s make a pact today. A pact to clean our hearing aids daily, to store them safely, to check for damages regularly, and to seek professional help when needed. Let’s promise to be mindful of their needs, just as they are of ours.
In the end, it’s not just about maintaining a device; it’s about nurturing a relationship – a relationship with sound, with communication, and with life itself.
References and Additional Resources
While this guide aims to provide comprehensive information on hearing aid care, there’s always more to learn. Here are some additional resources that you might find helpful:
The British Society of Audiology: A professional body that provides resources and guidelines on audiology and hearing aid care.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: An extensive resource for understanding hearing loss and hearing aid maintenance.
The Hearing Aid Repair Shop (HARS): Offers professional hearing aid repair and maintenance services.
Hearing Link: A UK charity providing support and advice for people with hearing loss and their families.
Remember, the journey to better hearing doesn’t end with getting a hearing aid; it’s a continuous process of learning, adapting, and maintaining. So, keep exploring, keep learning, and, most importantly, keep listening.