Man holding a behind-the-ear hearing aid

Murphy’s Law informs us that “if anything can go wrong, it will.” A better version might be that “things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance.”

That’s the reason we change the oil in our cars, replace the filters, and rotate the tires. We’re trying to preserve our investment and extend its life.

You should certainly think of hearing aids in the same manner. If you give things an opportunity to go wrong, they will; but if you’re proactive in your care and maintenance, your hearing aids can persist and function properly for several years.

So what are the things that can go wrong? Here are the three main threats to your hearing aids and what you can do to defend against them.

1. Physical damage

Enemy # 1 is physical damage. Hearing aids consist of vulnerable electronics that are susceptible to damage from shock. To defend against this, ensure that you store your hearing aids in their storage cases anytime you’re not using them.

A good guideline is that your hearing aids should be either in your ears or in the storage case at all times. Leaving your hearing aids unprotected on any surface is just inviting Murphy’s Law to come and shove them off. Similarly, when you’re putting in or removing your hearing aids, it’s best to do this over a soft surface in the event that they fall.

In addition, remember to check and replace the batteries frequently. You’re not doing the electronics any favors by having the hearing aids function on low battery power.

2. Moisture

Electronic devices and water do not mix, which anyone who’s dropped a cell phone in the kitchen sink understands all too well. Once underwater, there’s very little that can be done. But it takes much less than complete submersion in water to damage your hearing aids.

Water, in the form of mist, can still work its way into the hearing aids and begin causing havoc. For that reason, you should avoid using hairspray, bug spray, or any other sprays while using your hearing aids. In addition, keep in mind that extreme changes in temperature can generate condensation, for example going from a climate-controlled room to the outdoors. If this happens, ensure that you dry off any wetness that develops.

We also suggest not keeping your hearing aids in the bathroom, as the condensation can create problems. This is yet another reason that your bedside table drawer is probably the best place to keep your hearing aids when not in use.

3. Earwax and dirt

Even if you’ve defended your hearing aids against physical destruction and water with appropriate storage and the avoidance of moisture, you’ll still need to protect against opponent # 3: dirt and grime.

Earwax, dust, and debris can build up on the hearing aids, clogging the speakers, ports, and other components. To protect against this, 1) sustain proper ear hygiene, and 2) clean and sanitize your hearing aids every day.

Concerning cleaning and sanitizing your hearing aids, ensure that you use only the equipment supplied by your hearing professional. Your hearing professional can provide cleaning kits and instructions exclusively for your type of hearing aids.

Finally, think about acquiring a hearing aid sanitizer. Sanitizers make use of ultraviolet light to thoroughly kill dangerous pathogens, all while providing a safe place for storage.

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