Q: I recently purchased a pair of in-the-ear hearing aids. I want to be sure that I am caring for them properly. What should I do to look after them properly?

A: When you remove the hearing aids at night, it is advisable to follow the following routine:

1. Switch the hearing aid off and open the battery door (some hearing aids have an independent on/off switch, while others are switched off by opening the battery door – refer to your hearing aid instruction book if necessary). It is advisable to open the battery door at night to allow air to enter the hearing aid and assist in reducing the effects of moisture that may accumulate when the aids are in the ear canal. It also helps prolong battery life.

2. Carefully wipe the hearing aid down with a dry soft cloth or tissue. Next, inspect the portion of the hearing aid that fits down into the ear canal. If earwax has accumulated at the end of the hearing aid, this needs to be removed. Some in-the-ear hearing aids have replaceable “wax traps” to protect the inner components of the hearing aid, which you or your audiologist can replace. Other hearing aids have special cleaning tools for removing wax, which may be in the form of a brush, wire pick or combination of the two. However, you should consult your audiologist if you are not sure how to use this tool, as it is possible to force the wax deeper into the channel and damage the hearing aid.

Q: I have a behind-the-ear style hearing aid. Is the cleaning procedure any different for this type of hearing aid?

A: The basic cleaning procedure is the same. The only difference is that there is an earmould or dome, which is made of lucite or silicone. Since this is a non-electronic portion of the hearing aid, you may wash the earmould with a mild soap and water. If you feel confident to do so, you can disconnect the earmould from the hearing aid and place it in a soapy solution for a few minutes. Make sure that the earmould is dry and pay special attention to the earmould tubing to be sure no water is trapped inside. If it is, simply blow on the end of the tubing to clear the water before reattaching the earmould to the hearing aid. Remember to have the tubing replaced every 3-6 months, as it begins to lose its flexibility, which can result in cracks in the tubing and problems with the sound.

Q: Is it advisable to use alcohol swabs or cleaning detergents on the hearing aid?

A: No, do not use detergents or alcohol on the hearing aids as there is a possibilty that these can break down the hearing aid material. There are special sprays you can purchase that are designed specifically for the cleaning and disinfecting of hearing aids. Talk to your audiologist about these products.

Q: What precautions can I take to ensure that my hearing aids will operate properly?

A: Hearing aids are fairly delicate instruments and have 3 major “enemies”: There are a few important points to remember in this regard:

1. Don’t let the hearing aid get wet. Avoid showering, bathing, or getting into a swimming pool or sauna with the hearing aids in your ears.

2. Don’t place your hearing aids in direct sunlight or near a heat source. Don’t leave your hearing aid in your car on hot days. Never place your hearing aid in a microwave or oven to dry it out. To dry your hearing aid, simply open the battery door and allow it to dry out on its own or place it in a “dry aid kit” – these are available from your audiologist.

3. Don’t drop the hearing aid. If the hearing aid falls on a carpet, rug or upholstered furniture it usually will not cause the aid any harm. Hard floored surfaces or counter tops have the potential of damaging the hearing instruments. Many individuals will start with a pillow on their laps or a towel on the table or counter while they are learning to insert the hearing aids in their ears.