by Dr. R. Patrick Francis
Certified Audiologist
...unless you are on your way to an important function, in the midst of the holidays or leaving for vacation. There is nothing more frustrating than a hearing aid that fails when you most want to hear. Time and again I see frustrated patients that could have avoided the aggravation and expense of expedited repair work. By following the suggestions below, your chances of avoiding these situations will be greatly reduced.

1. Daily cleaning of your hearing aids takes only seconds, and can prevent unexpected interruptions in proper hearing aid function. Ear wax tends to accumulate in any opening the hearing aid may have. In most cases a small wax tool supplied with your hearing instruments will take care of this problem. The tool usually has a delicate wire loop at one end and a brush at the other end. This will enable you to remove the wax from the various openings in the instrument. The brush will help remove wax or dirt that can accumulate on the shell, or case of the instrument.

2. Keep your hearing aids dry. Aside from the obvious sources of moisture like taking a shower with your hearing aids or dropping them in a pool, minute amounts of moisture accumulate in your hearing aids every day. This moisture comes from your body and over time accumulates causing intermittency, distortion and weak performance. Commonly, the hearing aid will perform in the morning, and grow weaker as the day progresses. I recommend the use of an electronic dryer rather than a passive system (moisture absorbing beads). The electronic devices drive the moisture out of the hearing aids rather than simply providing a dry place to store your hearing aids.

3. Protect your hearing aids from animals! Even the best trained and well behaved pets will destroy your hearing aids. They are simply curious and may be attracted by the smell of the ear wax. At any rate, dogs are notorious for chewing hearing aids, cats will bat them around and then carry them off to some secluded area, birds have flown away with hearing aids, and I even had a patient lose a hearing aid to a ferret. Even if you are lucky enough to recover the instrument, often the damage is done.

4. Scheduled maintenance. Hearing aid performance begins to decline after six months of use. Ear wax, skin flakes, perspiration, dust, hair spray and every other conceivable contaminant will compromise the function of your hearing aids. Your audiologist should conduct a thorough maintenance regime on your hearing aids every six months. This should include changing tubing, replacing mic and receiver filters, vacuuming the instruments, disinfecting the earmold or shell of the hearing aids and inspecting your ears for wax accumulation. 

5. Common hearing aid maintenance products and prices.  
Electronic Hearing Aid Dryers:  
Moisture Guard……….. $50.00
Resound Restore………. $80.00
Dry & Store…………… $80.00 to 170.00 (Several Models)

Hearing Aid and Earmold Care (Deodorizers / Disinfectants)
Audio Wipes…………… $12.00 (160 wipes)
Spray Cleaner…………... $7.50
Wax Tool……………….. $1.00

Some simple and routine maintenance will help ensure proper function and top performance of your hearing aids. In addition to the improved performance, proper care may even increase the life expectancy of your hearing instruments. 

Happy Hearing!