By Heather Meyer
Unless you want to move, what can a hearing aid wearer do to maintain hearing aids in the humid climate of Missouri?
1. Protect the aids from situations where moisture is likely to be present:
If possible, avoid wearing the hearing aid in wet, humid or steamy conditions or during strenuous exercise. When not in use, the hearing aid should always be kept in a dry place, not in the bathroom or similarly moist location.
- Never wear the aid while taking a bath or shower, swimming, or in a sauna unless you have purchased a specialized “water proof” model.
- Ensure that your hair and ears are dry before you put in your hearing aid.
- Remove the hearing aid when at the hairdresser
2. Protect your aids from high temperatures:
You should never expose your hearing aid to heat. Protect it from direct sunlight (at home or in a parked car) and do not place it near heaters. If a hearing aid gets wet, remove it promptly, but do not attempt to dry it with a hairdryer, oven, clothes dryer, microwave, or other source of heat. Excessive temperatures may melt the plastic components and microwaves cause almost immediate destruction of all the electronic elements.
3. Protect the aids from fluctuations in temperature:
Never leave a hearing aid on an air conditioner or a radiator, near a stove, in a sunny window, in the glove compartment of a car, or in any other extremely hot or cold place. Be particularly careful when wearing the hearing aid outdoors in extreme cold or wet and rainy weather. Use an umbrella or hat when it is raining.
4. Keep the aids as dry as possible after exposure to moisture:
If you live in an area subject to high humidity or regularly engage in perspiration-inducing activities, consider trying some of these ideas to help in keeping moisture from damaging your hearing aids.
BTE tubing – BTE aid users may also face condensation of moisture in the tubing between the earmold/dome and their aid. Sometimes, we use thicker tubing which is less likely to attract moisture due to temperature changes. For additional hearing aid care, the earmold air blower cleans foreign materials and moisture from the tubing. Some people have used compressed air cans (the ones for office equipment NOT the ones for car tires!) Blowing through the tubing yourself can create further build-up of moisture from your breath, so this is not recommended. It has also been suggested that unwaxed dental floss or sewing thread strung through the tubing can be effective, as the material will absorb moisture.
Ear Gear – A water resistant double wall spandex nylon sleeve that is acoustically transparent, so there is no effect of sound coming into the hearing instrument. Ear Gear covers protect hearing instruments from dirt, sweat, and moisture. They come in a variety of sizes and colors and can be washed and reused over and over.
Dry & Store dehumidifier – An electrical appliance that uses heat and moving air, as well as a desiccating substance, to remove moisture from a hearing aid. The lamp within also helps to kill off bacteria, molds or fungi that may be growing on the outside of hearing aids and earmolds. These devices are a little more costly, but certainly do a good job.
Dry-Aid kits – A passive system of removing moisture, these inexpensive kits consist of silica (desiccating) crystals/beads in a jar. The hearing aid is placed inside after removing the battery or opening the battery door, to allow moisture in the hearing aid to be absorbed by the crystals. When the desiccant becomes too moist and needs to be recharged, it will change colors, and can be heated in an oven or microwave.
WARNING: the desiccants used here at Midwest ENT can be “recharged”, but others may not. I would advise you to consult with your audiologist to find out the type of desiccant you have and follow the directions included with your kit.
Sources: www.HealthyHearing.com; and Ear Gear Advantage
Dr. Mark Ross Self Help for Hard of Hearing People journal article 1999