Your new in-the-ear hearing aid is more than just another device: it's a sophisticated electronic tool that needs the right type of care if it's to function at its best. If you get a new hearing aid and wear it daily, never performing any basic maintenance, you'll greatly reduce its longevity. Fortunately, you don't need to worry about hearing aid failure if you just do a few simple maintenance tasks. Here's what you need to know to keep your hearing aid (and therefore, your hearing) functioning full force.
Cleaning the Hearing Aid Shell
The shell is the largest part of the hearing aid. Because it stays either inside or behind the ear, wax tends to accrue on this component quite quickly. This extra buildup can cause the hearing aid to fit improperly, which means that your hearing suffers.
To clean the hearing aid shell, you need only to use a clean paper towel or tissue—no liquids should ever be used on the shell. It's easy to see that gentle wiping is working because you'll notice significant ear wax on the paper. As long as you do this every day, you won't need to do more serious cleaning. However, if you've got a great deal of wax buildup due to never cleaning the shell, you can use a specialised hearing aid cleaning brush. You can purchase this brush from your audiologist.
Cleaning the Receiver
The hearing aid receiver gets even more wax buildup than the shell, because it's inside the ear canal closest to the wax. The receiver should be treated in the same way as the shell when it comes to cleaning: a thorough wiping each day to eliminate wax.
Whilst daily cleaning with paper towels or tissues is sometimes sufficient, the receiver can still end up plugged with wax over time. A specialised tool called a wax pick can remedy this issue. As with a hearing aid brush, the wax pick can be purchased from your audiologist. The pick is inserted into the tube and then pulled out and wiped off. You'll repeat this process until the tube is clean of all wax.
Cleaning the Microphone
The hearing aid microphone is the most delicate component of your hearing aid. You should never use any type of liquid to clean it. While some people have the instinct to push a pin through the microphone holes to unclog them, that's actually the worst thing you can do because it pushes the wax further back and eventually makes the microphone inoperable.
Instead, position the microphone over a clean paper towel, with the holes facing the floor. Shake it gently until you notice debris on the paper. Never shake the microphone forcefully, as this could damage the inner electronic components of the microphone.
You can also use a specialised hearing aid brush for microphone cleaning, especially if there's serious waxy buildup in the microphone holes. Hold the microphone in the same position described above and sweep the brush across the holes to dislodge buildup effectively.
By using the three steps above, you can ensure that your in-the-ear hearing aid helps you enjoy your best hearing for a long time to come. Contact your local audiologist when you need help with hearing aids!