Hearing Aid Care and Maintenance

This video was created by the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities chapter of Student Academy of Audiology with the intent to be used for educational purposes.

Contributors include Christine Gronvall, Chelsey Schwartz, Erin Holland, Mary Richter, Katie Pitts, and Mark DeRuiter.

View this content on YouTube.com.

The Daily Use and Care of Hearing Aids

The purpose of this video is to educate health care professionals and consumers about hearing aid use, care, and maintenance.

General Care

The right hearing aid should be marked with red, and the left hearing aid with blue. Right and left markings may be found on the hearing aid, tubing, inside the battery door, or on the earmold.

For a behind-the-ear hearing aid, the earmold should be periodically washed with mild soap and water. Before doing so, detach the earmold from the hearing aid. Dry the earmold thoroughly and if there is any water in the tubing, blow into the tube.

Remember the processor should only be wiped down with a dry, soft cloth.

If the hearing aid receiver is contained within the earmold, do not wash. This will ruin the electronics.

For other styles of hearing aids without earmolds, do not use any soap or water to clean, only a soft, dry cloth.

The tubing on behind-the-ear hearing aids needs to be replaced every 6 months. If you notice that the tubing is getting hard or cracking, bring it in to the audiologist.

The hearing aid itself should not get wet. Make sure that you or the patient removes the hearing aid before bathing, showering, or swimming.

Hairspray, gels, and creams should be applied before putting on the hearing aid. If these elements come in contact with the hearing aid, they can plug one of the ports, causing the hearing aid to malfunction.

If the hearing aid does happen to get wet, place in the provided dri-aid kit. Directions on how to use the kit should come on or within the package. The dri-aid containers will help absorb moisture from the hearing aid when it is not in use. These can be especially useful in humid environments.

Never place the hearing aid in the microwave or oven to remove moisture. Do not place the hearing aid on a heat source, such as a radiator, hair dryer, or leave it in the sun.

Also, please be careful not to drop the hearing aid. Pieces inside can be displaced and malfunction after being dropped.

Store the hearing aid in a container away from pets and children.

When storing for the night the battery door should be opened to avoid unnecessary draining.

It is helpful to have a designated safe spot for the hearing aid container to avoid losing the aids.

The wax guard can look different on the various types of hearing aids, but is generally white and located on the part of the hearing aid that is inserted into the ear canal. If the wax guard is full it can be changed using the tool provided.

Daily Care

Each day the hearing aid can be wiped down with a soft, dry cloth. This will help to remove any oils, wax, or other debris such as hairspray that may be on the casing.

You can also check for wax by inspecting the portion of the hearing aid that is inserted into the ear canal. Wax in these places may stop the sound from entering the ear.

If you do notice wax you can gently remove it using a brush or wire pick such as the one shown here. Be sure to brush or pick wax out from the aid so as not to push wax further down.

In cases where the hearing aid is worn behind the ear, there may be wax in the tubing. To clean this tubing you may use a long flexible wire. This is threaded through one end and pulled out the other. The wax will be pushed out as the wire exits the opposite end. You may need to twist the wire in a circular motion as it is removed to get all of the wax.

Do not use objects like toothpicks or pins to remove wax as they may cause damage to the hearing aid.

Each night the hearing aids should be removed from the ears and the battery doors opened to turn the devices off.

Battery Use

There are several different sizes of hearing aid batteries. It is necessary to check the size of battery needed for your particular hearing aid. Each battery size is coded with a specific color.

It is important not to confuse hearing aid batteries with medications. Hearing aid batteries are small and can easily be mistaken for pills.

Because hearing aid batteries are toxic, they should not be ingested or thrown away in the garbage. If a hearing aid battery is ingested, immediately notify your doctor and call poison control.

Hearing aids currently use zinc air batteries. Once exposed to air, this type of battery starts generating power so it is important to avoid removing their sticker tabs until you are ready to use them.

Store hearing aid batteries at room temperature. Warm or cold temperatures may cause the sticker piece on the battery to dissolve and detach, causing the battery to activate.

Batteries can last anywhere from 4 to 14 days, depending on their size. Smaller batteries do not last as long as bigger batteries and will need to be changed more often.

After you remove the sticker tab from the top of the battery it is a good idea to stick it on your calendar to remind yourself when you last changed your batteries.

Some hearing aids have a feature to alert the hearing aid wearer when their batteries need to be replaced. If there is concern about hearing aid batteries going dead unexpectedly, it may be helpful to change the batteries once a week on a specific day.

To insert the battery correctly, be sure to place the battery in the hearing aid flat side up. If you insert the battery upside down, the battery door will not close.

Changing the battery can be difficult on smaller hearing aids. Individuals with dexterity problems are likely to experience trouble when trying to remove a dead battery. Small tools, such as this magnet, can be used to help remove batteries.

When purchasing hearing aid batteries, be sure to pay attention to their expiration dates. Avoid buying batteries that are nearing expiration.

Zinc air batteries stored at room temperature with tabs intact generally have a shelf life of about 3 years.

Troubleshooting

If the hearing aid does not appear to be working, make sure that the volume control is turned on or up.

Not all hearing aids will have volume control. In some cases a separate remote control may be required to make adjustments.

If you are not sure the batteries are working you can quickly test them by holding the hearing aid in your hand, closing your hand around the hearing aid, and listening for a whistling sound. If the hearing aid makes a whistling sound, the batteries are working. If you are still unsure, change the battery.

When you are changing the battery, check to make sure that the contacts that touch the battery are not corroded, rusty, or discolored. If they are, the hearing aid will need to be taken back to the audiologist.

If the batteries appear to be working but the hearing aid user is still having trouble, check the part of the aid that inserts into the ear. If there is a lot of wax buildup, this can block sound. Try brushing the wax away gently.

If the tubing has moisture built up inside, sound can be blocked. Try putting the hearing aid in a dri-aid kit for a few hours to remove moisture.

If the hearing aid becomes immersed in water immediately remove the hearing aid from the water, open the battery door and take the battery out. Set the hearing aid in a dri-aid kit so it has an opportunity to dry. If that does not work, the hearing aid may need to be taken back to the audiologist.

If there are no apparent signs of malfunction and the hearing aid user is still struggling, their hearing may have changed and the hearing aid may need to be reprogrammed to better fit their loss.

It is recommended that individuals have their hearing checked annually.

Hearing Aid Insertion

Hearing aids come in several different styles.

If you are having difficulties getting the hearing aid to fit in the ear properly pull the ear up and back to allow for a better fit with the mold. It is normal to hear feedback when inserting or removing the hearing aid.

When you are inserting the hearing aid mold into the ear and it does not appear to be fitting snuggly, there may be a lot of distortion or a whistling sound. If this happens, the hearing aid user will need a new mold that will fit properly.

If the hearing aid is making a whistling sound and the mold is fitting snuggly, try covering up the end of the mold while covering up the microphone. If the whistling sound does not stop, there is an internal problem and the hearing aid will need to be taken back to the audiologist for repair.

Watch the video to see different types of hearing aids being inserted and removed.



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