Ask an Audiologist: How Do I Care for Hearing Aids?

February 29, 2024

Ask an Audiologist: How Do I Care for Hearing Aids?

Welcome to the exciting journey of improved hearing! You've taken a significant step towards better hearing health by getting your first pair of hearing aids. Just like any new technology, there's a period of adjustment as you familiarize yourself with your new devices. Soon enough, you'll find yourself relying on them to connect you with the sounds of the world around you.

Hearing aids are vital tools for individuals experiencing hearing loss, enabling clearer communication and an improved quality of life. To ensure these devices function optimally, proper care and maintenance are crucial. We understand the significance of preserving the integrity and extending the lifespan of your hearing aids, and recognize that doing so requires routine upkeep and an understanding of best practices.

In caring for hearing aids, it becomes necessary to handle them with care, keeping them clean, dry, and free from earwax and other debris that can impair their performance. These intricate devices comprise delicate components; thus, we recommend an approach that is gentle yet thorough, and suited to the specific type of hearing aid you have.

Whether you are new to using hearing aids or seeking to refine your maintenance routine, we are equipped to guide you through the essential steps to safeguard your auditory investment.

Understanding Your Hearing Aids

To ensure optimal performance and longevity of your hearing aids, it's essential to have a clear grasp of the different types available and their individual components.

The main function of a hearing aid is to amplify sound, enhancing hearing and speech comprehension for individuals with hearing loss. When choosing the right hearing aids, several crucial factors come into play. Firstly, the degree of hearing loss is pivotal. Hearing aids are tailored to address varying levels of impairment, ensuring optimal effectiveness. While aesthetic preferences play a significant role, your audiologist will prioritize technology that best addresses your specific hearing needs.

Some wearers may prioritize discreetness or opt for models that blend seamlessly into their appearance. During the hearing aid selection process, your audiologist considers your lifestyle needs, accounting for daily activities and environments frequented. For instance, those in noisy settings may benefit from noise-canceling features. Dexterity considerations are also made. Assessing these factors comprehensively ensures that the selected hearing aids not only address hearing loss but also align with personal preferences and capabilities, enhancing overall satisfaction and usability.

Types of Hearing Aids

  • Completely in the Canal (CIC): These are molded to fit inside your ear canal and are suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss. They are the smallest and least visible type and are less likely to pick up wind noise.
  • In the Canal (ITC): A bit larger than CIC aids, ITC aids are partially visible in the outer ear and are also used for mild to moderate hearing loss.
  • In the Ear (ITE): These fit within the outer portion of the ear and are more visible. They are beneficial for a range of hearing loss from mild to severe.
  • Behind the Ear (BTE): These hook over the top of your ear and rest behind it. BTE aids are appropriate for almost all types of hearing loss and all ages.
  • Receiver in Canal (RIC) or Receiver in the Ear (RITE): Similar to BTE aids, RIC/RITE aids have the speaker built into an insertable ear dome or custom-made ear mold.

Key Hearing Aid Components and Functions

  • Microphone: Captures sound from the environment and converts it into digital signals.
  • Speaker (Receiver): Sends the amplified signals into your ear, producing clear sound.
  • Battery: Powers the entire device. Battery type and life vary between hearing aid models.

Hearing Aid Care and Maintenance

To ensure your hearing aids function effectively, it's crucial to adopt a daily care and maintenance routine. This includes cleaning, proper storage, and battery management. We recommend cleaning your hearing aids each day to maintain optimal performance. Use a soft, dry cloth to wipe the surface gently. When addressing the microphone, turn the hearing aid upside down to prevent debris from entering the port. Never insert tools into the microphone as this can cause damage. For in-the-ear models, check for earwax buildup and remove it with a clean, dry brush.

  • Exterior: Wipe with soft cloth
  • Microphone: Clean with upside-down position
  • Earwax: Remove with dry brush

Storage and Handling

Handling your hearing aids with care is vital. When not in use, store them in a safe, dry place preferably in a dehumidifier container to prevent moisture damage. Ensure they are out of reach from pets and children to avoid accidental damage.

  • Dehumidifier container: Prevent moisture damage
  • Safe location: Keep away from pets and children

Battery Management

Proper battery management is an essential part of your daily hearing aid routine. Turn off your hearing aids when they're not being used to conserve battery life. For hearing aids that utilize disposable batteries, store spare batteries at room temperature and check them regularly for leaks or corrosion.

  • Conserve battery: Turn off when not in use
  • Storage: Keep spares at room temperature

Troubleshooting Common Issues

When maintaining hearing aids, a few common issues can often be resolved through simple troubleshooting steps. We'll cover solutions for sound quality problems, adjustments for a better physical fit, and guidelines for when it's appropriate to seek professional help.

Sound Quality Problems

  • Weak or No Sound: Ensure a fresh battery is in place, or if rechargeable, that the unit is properly charged. Check the volume settings, and make sure no wax or debris is blocking the microphone or receiver. Regularly replace the wax guard if your hearing aid has one.
  • Distortion or Feedback: Carefully clean away any dirt and grime that could interfere with sound quality. Perform listening checks by wearing the device to determine if it’s functioning normally. Avoiding moisture is crucial; keep your hearing aids dry.

Physical Fit Adjustments

  • Discomfort Issues: Initially, hearing aids may feel slightly uncomfortable. Regular use is essential to adapting to the sensation. If discomfort persists, you might need minor adjustments to the ear mold or other components of the hearing aid.
  • Insecure Fit: Ensure that the hearing aid is properly inserted. If the aid still feels loose or unstable, consulting your audiologist for adjustments may improve the fit.

Software Updates and Upgrades

These updates can enhance performance, add new features, and fix bugs that may arise. Hearing aids nowadays are sophisticated devices that often come with companion smartphone apps. It's in our best interest to regularly check these apps or consult with our audiologists to ensure we're using the most current software version. An upgrade may be in order if a hearing aid is several years old and a newer model offers significant improvements.

When to Seek an Audiologist's Help

If troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the problem, or visible damage to the hearing aid exists, it's time to contact us. Our audiologist provides a thorough cleaning and check-up, ensuring that your hearing aids are functioning optimally. To maintain optimal hearing aid functioning, consider regular check-ups with an audiologist. These appointments are opportunities to clean, tune, and, if necessary, repair our hearing aids. During these visits, audiologists can:

  • Inspect: Earwax and debris can clog the microphone and receiver. Regular cleaning is essential.
  • Test Performance: Audiologists can ensure hearing aids are functioning according to our hearing needs.
  • Adjust Settings: As our hearing changes or lifestyle needs evolve, adjustments may be required.

At Anywhere Audiology, we are here to make sure you hear your best! That includes providing the best care and maintenance for your hearing aids. Contact us to schedule a professional hearing aid check-up and cleaning. Regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of our hearing aids and ensure they continue to meet our hearing needs.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Emma Durazzo
Owner & Doctor of Audiology
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With years of experience and continued professional training, Emma Durazzo (formerly Emma McCue) has developed her expertise in a variety of subspecialties within the scope of audiology.