Tagged: hearing aid cleaning

How long should hearing aids last?

December 14, 2015

When you are considering a hearing aid purchase, there are bound to be questions you need to have answered prior to your final decision. One of the more common questions I hear is “How long should a hearing aid last?” When making a large investment, it’s important to consider the longevity of that investment in order to make the best decision for your budget, lifestyle and needs. Many people are surprised that there is a difference in typical life expectancy between styles of hearing aids.

Team of 5 business people working on some calculationsThe typical life span of most hearing aids is five to seven years. The life expectancy for a completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid is slightly shorter compared to the other styles because it resides in a hostile environment every day. The outer ear canal is a warm, moist cavern that has a slow accumulation of wax and oils. Over time, the CIC can have wax accumulation on the receiver, which generates the sound that is heard by the ear. Alternatively, it may develop corrosion on the internal components, decreasing its functionality and/or sound quality. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids generally have a longer life expectancy because the working parts are inside a sealed case. The part of the hearing aid that delivers the sound to the ear has no working parts, so it can be removed from the hearing aid and washed under warm water with mild soap on an as-needed basis. The newer Canal Receiver Technology (CRT) also called Receiver in the Canal (RIC) technology is sort of its own breed. This instrument has most of the working parts encased in a piece that sits behind the ear, but the receiver is in the canal, as its name implies. The nice thing about the CRT/RIC technology is that the receivers can be replaced for a nominal cost at your hearing healthcare provider’s office if wax or other debris degrades the sound quality, saving you the cost of a repair by the manufacturer. The life expectancy of the CRT/RIC is similar to the BTE.

No matter which style you choose, hearing aids need to be checked periodically to ensure they are working properly. We recommend having your hearing aids checked every six months. If you have neglected these important checks, your instruments may not be in the best working order and you may be experiencing less than optimal performance and sound quality. Regular check-ups will ensure a long lasting hearing aid that improves your everyday listening to the best of its ability. In addition, these semi-annual checks allow your provider to make sure the hearing aids function as expected. If your hearing or listening environments have changed, the hearing aids can be modified to better suit your needs at your semi-annual check-up. If it has been a while since you’ve had your hearing aids checked, call today and get your check-up scheduled. And, if you are new to hearing aids, make your investment last longer by determining to make your check-ups a priority. You’ll be glad you did.

10 Tips for Caring for Your Hearing Aids

May 11, 2015

 
Hearing aids are a big investment. Having a regular cleaning regimen in place is the best way to make sure your investment lasts as long as possible. Here are some easy-to-remember tips for caring for your hearing aids on a daily basis:

1. Clean and disinfect your hearing aids daily with a disinfectant spray that can be purchased from your hearing healthcare professional. Or, in the least, wipe the hearing aids with a tissue or Kleenex to remove any debris or wax from the outside of the hearing aid. Be sure to clean the openings of the hearing aid with the proper cleaning tool, which were provided to you when you received your hearing aids.

2. Turn the hearing aids off when not in use or for overnight storage by opening the battery door. Leaving the battery door open will also allow any accumulated moisture to dry. It is best to store the hearing aids in the box provided by your hearing healthcare provider or in a dry-n-store dehumidifying box. If you use a dehumidifying box, remember to remove the battery from the instrument first.

3. Remove the hearing aids before using hair spray. Hairspray can gum up the microphone and keep sound from entering the hearing aid or decreasing the amount of sound coming to the hearing aids internal circuitry.

4. Do not expose your hearing aids to excessive heat, moisture or humidity. Doing so may damage the hearing aid casing that requires the hearing aid to be sent away for repair.

5. Do not wear your hearing aids while bathing, showering, or swimming. Water and moisture are not your hearing aid’s friend.

6. Keep your hearing aids away from heat sources such as stoves, heat registers, hair dryers, or open flame. Excessive heat can damage the vital internal components.

7. Do not drop your hearing aids or allow the instrument to be subjected to rugged handling. Even a fall from a short distance can cause damage to a hearing aid. If you drop your hearing aid, don’t worry. Check for any cracks and, if you are concerned, feel free to have your hearing healthcare provider check the hearing aid to make sure it is in good working condition.

8. Keep hearing aids away from pets. Dogs, in particular, are curious about feedback sounds that are sometimes produced by hearing aids. Using a box or case to keep the hearing aids in over-night is a good idea in order to keep them away from our furry family members.

9. Keep fresh batteries in your hearing aids. Most new technology hearing aids will notify you when it is time to change batteries. If the signal is ignored, be aware that it will stop functioning when the battery dies. This is of particular importance as you drive in traffic or are in other situations where you may rely on warning sounds for safety. It may be easier to change your batteries on a routine basis – say every Monday – in order to make sure the batteries are fresh and so you don’t have to worry about a hearing aid going dead during an inopportune time.

10. Keep in touch! Maintaining regular contact with your hearing healthcare provider will increase the life expectancy of your hearing aid. A regularly scheduled check of your hearing aids will enhance long lasting reliability of your hearing aids as well. Biannual testing of your hearing is also crucial to assure that the product you purchased is delivering the performance needed to match any changing hearing conditions.

By using these ten simple tips, you can ensure a long and happy life for your hearing aids. And, you can feel confident that your hearing aids will be working optimally at all times, as well. If you have any questions about how your hearing aid is working or would like us to take a look at your hearing aids, please call our office for an appointment. We’d be glad to help!

9 Tips for Adjusting to New Hearing Aids

May 4, 2015

 
Learning to use your new hearing aids optimally and enjoyably will depend on many factors: your age and physical health; severity of hearing loss; how long you have had a hearing loss; and, your level of motivation to improve your hearing. Learning to hear again requires patience, practice and establishing reasonable hearing expectations. It will take a while for your ears, as well as your brain, to adjust to hearing through your hearing aids and to their physical presence. Your ear has a built-in “alarm system” that is meant to tell you that you have an intruder in your ear. It takes a while for the ear to get used to the idea of something residing in there for twelve hours a day. But don’t worry, after a few short weeks, wearing your hearing aids will be like second nature. Here are some simple tips to help you make the most of the first few weeks of wearing new hearing aids:

1. Begin with easier hearing situations: Start off slowly by wearing your hearing aids in familiar surroundings, such as around your home. After you have familiarized yourself with the operation of your hearing aids, put them on and start talking with one or two familiar people. Unless it cannot be avoided, don’t attempt to wear your hearing aids in noisy places like the supermarket, the airport or a noisy restaurant for the first day or so. Take it slow and easy. Getting used to your aids is like training for a marathon, not deciding to run a sprint race tomorrow.

2. After the “breaking-in” period: It’s important that you increase your wearing time from 5 or 6 hours the first day to using your hearing aids most of the “waking hours.” Soon, wearing them will become routine. Using your hearing aids regularly under varying conditions will teach you how to fully exploit your hearing potential and enjoy optimum benefits from your new investment.

3. Learn to observe yourself: Adapting to hearing aids will take some time. For some, it’s 6 weeks while others may need upward of 6 months. Ideally, your hearing aids should become “part of your body”, similar to glasses. To achieve this, make sure your hearing aids are fitting comfortably. Should you experience any discomfort or “pressure points” please call us right away. Wearing hearing aids and hearing a greater range of sounds may make you tired at first. Take a break if the sound seems over stimulating. Be happy with a little progress each day.

4. Learn to be an effective listener: With your new hearing aids it’s now easier to hear well and communicate effectively in both quiet and noisy situations. It is still necessary, however, for you to be an effective listener. Even people with good hearing often have to concentrate on what they want to hear and ignore or suppress the things they don’t. Try to identify any sounds you don’t recognize when you first start wearing your hearing aids. Practice concentrating on the sounds and voices you want to hear, ignoring those that are less important. When there are a number of different sounds occurring around you, practice shifting your attention from one to the other.

5. Adjust to your own voice: At first, you may not recognize the sound of your own voice. This is because you are now hearing yourself more clearly with the help of your hearing aids. Hearing yourself better means you’ll have the opportunity to adjust the volume of your voice and the way you pronounce words more easily. It’s good practice to read aloud to yourself when you’re getting used to hearing aids.

6. Learn to hear again in difficult situations: Living with noise can be unnerving when you first start out with hearing aids. The world is a noisy place. People with normal hearing are able to suppress noise to some degree by concentrating on the sounds they wish to hear. If, however, you have had hearing loss for a while, you may have lost this ability. Your mission is to live with both unpleasant and pleasant sounds. Practice concentrating on what you want to hear. If you have multi-program hearing aids, practice choosing the best program for the situation.

7. Be An Active Participant in Group Conversions: Even people who hear well can have problems understanding speech if several people are talking at the same time. So, it’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed when you are first trying to hear in large groups. It will help if you move closer to the person you want to hear and watch his/her lips. Don’t listen to the group but focus on a single speaker at a time. Experienced hearing aid wearers manage astonishing results in this type of situation with practice.

8. Listen to the radio or television: Electronically produced speech may be difficult to understand. By focusing on the general meaning the speaker is trying to convey instead of trying to decipher each word, your ability to use your hearing aids should improve. If television continues to be a problem, talk to your audiologist about accessories that might be available for your hearing aid that allow for hands-free ear-level connectivity to your TV or other audio equipment.

9. Try using the telephone with a hearing aid: There are a number of options available for improving how you can hear on the phone. Remember where the microphones are on your instrument and try to place the receiver over the microphone. This will ensure the best possible pick-up of the sound and by doing so, improve the likelihood of your being able to hear on the phone.

While not an inclusive list, we hope that this short list of tips will help you be successful with your new hearing aids. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call our office at any time. We’d love to work with you through the first months on your journey to better hearing. Call us anytime!
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10 Steps For Maintaining the Value of Your Hearing Aids

January 5, 2015

 
Have you noticed a decrease in the performance of your hearing aids? Do you ever feel that you just aren’t hearing as well with them as you would like? Here is the most important question: has it been more than six months since your last visit to your audiologist? Often times a routine clean and check of your hearing aids can make a world of difference in the sound quality they produce and sometimes, even in the power they provide. Regular in-house servicing can improve your hearing aid’s performance and functionality. Ultimately, you are likely to maintain the value and extend the life of your hearing aids by doing so.

Having a regularly scheduled checkup is important because hearing aids have several parts that should be cleaned or replaced regularly in order to maintain optimal performance. Filters and wax traps are designed to decrease the likelihood of moisture, dust and debris collecting on the microphones and receivers. With time, these filters will clog, which will diminish the sound quality. Often times it will seem as though the hearing aid has stopped working all together. Regular checkups will decrease the likelihood of this possibility.

One style in particular, the behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid requires regular maintenance because of its use of tubing to relay sound from the hearing aid to the ear canal. The ear mold tubing and the ear hooks that are the attachment point for the tubing require periodic replacement. As the tubing ages, it will become stiff and discolored. Replacing the tubing will provide more flexibility, comfort and a better fitting ear mold. Routine maintenance of these parts is a simple way to keep your hearing aids in good working order.

There is a lot that can be done at home on a daily basis as well. Here are some tips for maintaining your hearing aids:

1.    Clean and disinfect your hearing aids daily to avoid buildup of wax and debris.
2.    Turn the aids off when not in use.
3.    Remove the hearing aids before using hair products.
4.    Do not expose your hearing aids to excessive heat, moisture or humidity.
5.    Do not wear your hearing aids while bathing, showering or swimming.
6.    Keep away from heat sources such as stoves, heat registers, hair dryers or open flame.
7.    Avoid dropping your hearing aids or allowing the instrument to be subjected to rugged handling.
8.    Keep away from pets.
9.    Keep fresh batteries in your hearing aids to avoid losing battery power unexpectedly.
10.    Invest in a drying kit to remove moisture accumulation from daily wear.

Keeping these tips in mind and visiting our office every six months is extremely important to the functionality of your hearing aids and to your overall hearing healthcare. If it has been a while since you have been in to our office, please call to schedule a routine clean and check appointment. Maintaining the health of your hearing aids is the best way to maintain the value of your investment.