Man holding a behind-the-ear hearing aid

Murphy’s Law tells us that “if anything can go wrong, it will.” A better variant 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, switch out the filters, and rotate the tires. We’re trying to protect our investment and extend its life.

You should certainly consider hearing aids in a similar 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 last and function properly for years.

So what are the things that can go wrong? Below are the three primary threats to your hearing aids and what you can do to safeguard against them.

1. Physical breakdown

Enemy # 1 is physical damage. Hearing aids contain sensitive electronics that are susceptible to damage from shock. To protect against this, be sure you store your hearing aids in their storage cases whenever you’re not using them.

An effective guideline is that your hearing aids should be either in your ears or in the storage case at all times. Placing your hearing aids unprotected on any surface is just asking for Murphy’s Law to come and bump them off. Likewise, when you’re inserting and removing your hearing aids, it’s a good idea to do this over a soft surface in the event they fall.

Additionally, remember to check and replace the batteries frequently. You’re not doing the circuitry any favors by having the hearing aids work on low battery power.

2. Moisture

Electronic devices and water do not mix, which anyone who’s dropped a mobile phone in the kitchen sink knows all too well. Once submerged, there’s very little that can be done. But it takes a lot 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 start wreaking chaos. For that reason, you should refrain from using hairspray, insect spray, or any other sprays while using your hearing aids. Additionally, keep in mind that extreme changes in temperature can generate condensation, for instance going from a climate-controlled room to the outdoors. If this happens, ensure that you dry off any moisture that develops.

We also suggest not storing your hearing aids in the bathroom, as the condensation can generate problems. This is yet another reason that your bedside table drawer is probably the ideal spot to keep your hearing aids when they aren’t in use.

3. Earwax and dirt

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

Earwax, dust, and debris can accumulate on the hearing aids, blocking the speakers, ports, and other parts. To protect against this, 1) maintain proper ear hygiene, and 2) clean and sanitize your hearing aids daily.

Concerning cleaning and sanitizing your hearing aids, make sure to use only the tools provided by your hearing professional. Your hearing professional can provide cleaning kits and directions exclusively for your type of hearing aids.

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

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