With the heat of the summer, we get a few patients in a week who are having problems with their hearing aids and can’t figure out why. The trouble usually comes in the form of intermittent or sporadic “cutting out”, or a hearing aid that sounds weaker and weaker as the day progresses, but sounds fine in the morning. We usually find that these things happen from excessive sweat or humidity causing corrosion, battery damage, or other problems with the circuitry of the aid.
Anything wet, high humidity, perspiration, condensation, accidental immersion in a bath or pool can cause damage to a hearing aid and prevent it from functioning properly. Like any other electronic device, you must keep your hearing aid dry. An exception may be made for the few hearing aid models recently marketed as being specifically designed as water resistant. If you are interested in this type, you can give us a call and we would be glad to let you try them.
There are a few things you can do to prevent moisture damage. If you live in an area subject to high humidity or regularly engage in perspiration-inducing activities, consider buying some sort of DRI-AID kit. This is a small, inexpensive kit consisting of silica (desiccating) crystals in a jar. At night, after removing the battery, place the hearing aid down in the jar. During the night, the moisture in the hearing aid will be absorbed by crystals. The silica crystals can be recycled by oven heating when they become moist (indicated by change in color), so the kit has a long life. These kits are available for $7.00 in our office.
A recently introduced product, Dry & Store, is an electrical appliance that uses heat, moving air, as well as a desiccating substance to remove moisture from a hearing aid (as well as from any cerumen that may have infiltrated the sound bore). The unit will accommodate two hearing aids (any type). Once turned on, it is programmed for an eight hour cycle, the first eight minutes of which a germicidal lamp helps kill off bacteria, molds or fungi that may be growing on the surface of the hearing aid shell or earmold. With this unit, it is best not to remove the battery (but keeping the battery compartment open) since the removal of moisture from the battery may slightly extend its life span. A number of anecdotal reports suggest that that the regular use of this device can help ensure the hearing aid’s optimal performance over the long run. These units are around $50.
As we live in a dry climate, humidity is not usually a big problem, but it is something to consider if you will be vacationing in a humid environment. The bigger problems in Utah come from sweat damage. If you are going to be gardening or exercising in the heat, our recommendation is to not use the hearing aids during that time. If you need to hear during those activities, you can consider trying Lyric, which is an extended-wear device placed in the ear canal by an audiologist. If you have any questions about moisture resistant devices or how to protect your hearing instruments, please give us a call at 801-770-0801.