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Man holding a behind-the-ear hearing aid

Murphy’s Law informs us that “if anything can go wrong, it will.” A better version 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 aiming 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 maintenance, your hearing aids can last and operate properly for many years.

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

1. Physical damage

Opponent # 1 is physical damage. Hearing aids consist of delicate electronics that are prone to damage from shock. To protect against this, remember to store your hearing aids in their storage cases whenever you’re not using them.

An effective rule of thumb is that your hearing aids should be either in your ears or in the storage case at all times. Leaving your hearing aids exposed on any surface is just inviting Murphy’s Law to come and knock them off. Similarly, 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.

In addition, take the time to check and replace the batteries often. You’re not doing the electronics any favors by having the hearing aids function on low battery power.

2. Moisture

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

We also highly recommend not keeping your hearing aids in the bathroom, as the condensation can generate issues. This is an additional reason that your bedside table drawer is probably the best place to store your hearing aids when not in use.

3. Earwax and dirt

Even if you’ve protected your hearing aids against physical destruction and water with adequate storage and the avoidance of moisture, you’ll still have to protect against adversary # 3: dirt and grime.

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

Concerning cleaning and sanitizing your hearing aids, ensure that you use only the tools supplied by your hearing professional. Your hearing professional can provide cleaning kits and guidance specifically for your type of hearing aids.

And finally, think about buying a hearing aid sanitizer. Sanitizers make use of ultraviolet light to thoroughly kill dangerous pathogens, all while providing a safe place for storage.