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Hearing management

Updated 24 August 2018

How to look after your hearing aid

It's important to take proper care of your hearing aid – from keeping it clean to regular servicing. Here's what you should know.

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Although hearing aids aren't able to restore your hearing, these devices make the most of your existing hearing ability. The technology of hearing aids has progressed in such a manner that they can almost fully compensate for any lack of hearing.

As with any piece of machinery, your hearing aid requires maintenance and care to work to its full capability. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your hearing aid:

1. Read the manual carefully before operating your hearing aid

Getting used to a hearing aid and operating it for the first time can be daunting, but don’t be intimidated. Read the instructions carefully and don’t hesitate to ask your audiologist or the manufacturer any questions you may have. Correct usage is key to prolonging the life of the device and getting the best service from it.

Never attempt to service or take apart the device yourself, and contact your manufacturer or audiologist if a problem can’t be solved through the usual troubleshooting steps in the manual.

man reading instruction manual

2. Keep your hearing aid clean and disinfected

Your ears can be a breeding ground for bacteria, which can be transferred onto the hearing aid and cause ear infections if you don’t keep the device clean. It’s not only your own health that is important, but keeping the hearing aid clean prolongs the life of this expensive, specialised piece of equipment.

Wipe the hearing aid daily with a dry cloth, but don’t immerse it in water. Disinfect your hearing aid with an alcohol-free wipe.

If you wear a hearing aid with moulds that cup around your ear, you should pay special attention to cleaning the mould. The mould should be separated from the hearing aid and cleaned thoroughly once a week. Look out for any cracks or hardening of the plastic.

3. Store your hearing aid properly

Keep your hearing aid in the special case provided. Not storing it properly can cause it to pick up dust and bacteria which can affect its function.

When at home, store your hearing aid in a cool, dry place and avoid exposing it to heat and humidity. Don't use your hearing aid in the shower or bath, or when you blow-dry and style your hair. 

hearing aid and storage on table

4. Turn your hearing aid completely off when not in use.

According to the UK National Health Service, you should switch your hearing aid off when it’s not in use. When you are not using it for a prolonged period, it’s best to remove the battery completely. This will make it last longer and prevent any damage.

5. Have wax build-up in your ear professionally removed

Keeping your hearing aid free from earwax is important to keep it working optimally. Over time, the build-up of wax can cause the sound to become distorted, according to the Audiology Associates of Westchester in New York.

Unfortunately some ears are more prone to wax build-up than others, and cleaning your ears with earbuds can actually push the wax further down the ear canal, which only makes the situation worse. 

If you suffer from wax build-up, have your ears professionally cleaned by your doctor or audiologist. Physical check-ups can also rule out any problems with the hearing aid and can allow your audiologist to adapt your hearing aid accordingly. 

man having ears examined by his doctor

6. Always be careful when inserting your hearing aid

Pay close attention to your audiologist’s instructions on how to insert your hearing aid. It is advisable to lean over a table or a soft surface, such as a bed, when doing so. These devices contain sensitive electronics that can easily be damaged when dropped on the floor.

woman wearing her hearing aid

7. Invest in regular maintenance and servicing

Get the best possible results from your hearing aid by having it professionally cleaned, tuned and serviced by your audiologist or the manufacturer. Routine maintenance will ensure that your hearing aid provides many years of optimal service.

Image credit: iStock

 

Ask the Expert

Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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