Swimming, boating, barbecuing: summer brings plenty of fun in the sun, and your hearing aids help amplify every moment. As you soak up all the season has to offer, it’s important to keep in mind that too much heat and moisture can damage the delicate components of your hearing devices. Don’t sweat it—you can still enjoy all your favorite summer pastimes by taking a few simple steps to protect and care for your hearing aids to help them last for years to come.
Picture this: It’s a beautiful summer day. You’re lounging by the pool, listening to sounds of laughter and splashing, when you decide to take a dip. As soon as you hit the water, you remember—you’re still wearing your hearing aids! Maybe you work up a sweat after a long morning of gardening under the hot sun, or happen to get caught in your grandkids’ lawn sprinkler fun.
Whether you’re at the pool, tending to the yard or at the mercy of little ones just out of the water, your hearing aids will inevitably come in contact with moisture this summer. While many hearing aids are designed to repel light moisture, an excessive exposure to water, humidity and sweat can cause damage, kill your batteries and invite unwanted bacteria growth. Having a game plan for proper hearing aid care will help you keep your devices in top shape as you enjoy your favorite summer activities.
Here are some common places to protect your hearing aids this summer:
- The pool. Whether you enter the water or not, it’s easy for your hearing aid to get wet if not properly stored.
- The beach. Many people opt to leave their hearing aids at home, as wind can blow sand and dirt into your devices.
- Boating. If you’re likely to get soaked (speedboating, kayaking, canoeing), leave your hearing aids on shore.
- Tropical environments. Heading to a tropical destination? High humidity invites more moisture and sweat, so regularly drying your hearing aid will be essential to keeping it clean and functioning at peak performance.
- Spas/steam rooms.
- While camping and during other outdoor activities.
How Can I Keep My Hearing Aids Dry?
There are a variety hearing aid tools specifically designed to protect from and eliminate moisture. Keep these accessories handy along with your sunglasses and sunscreen:
- Hearing aid dry box: A container for both storing and dehumidifying your devices
- Hearing aid covers: Sometimes called hearing aid headbands or sleeves, these slip over your hearing aids to protect them from dirt and moisture.
- Hearing aid cord and clip: These keep your hearing aids attached to your clothing, so you don’t have to worry about them falling off and getting lost.
- Portable waterproof container: For storing your devices around wet areas
Models that sit outside the ear (BTE, RIC) tend to be the most vulnerable to moisture—as the electrical components are housed outside the ear—whereas custom models such as CIC and IIC sit far enough in the ear that they are shielded from rain, sweat, etc.
Most Miracle-Ear BTE and RIC hearing aids are water-resistant (custom models are not). However, water-resistant hearing aids are not the same as waterproof hearing aids. Though water-resistant models are designed to repel light moisture from sweat and rain, they are not designed to be submerged in water. Here’s how to keep your devices safe while enjoying water activities.
If you’re going in the water:
- Remove your hearing aids and keep them in a waterproof container. Use a hard container, as plastic bags can be easily punctured.
- Keep the container out of direct sunlight and in a place where it can be easily seen.
- Dry off completely before handling/reinserting your devices.
If you’re around water but not in it:
- Consider wearing a hearing aid sleeve and cord clip. The sleeve will protect your hearing aid from moisture, while the cord will keep it attached to your clothing and prevent it from falling into any wet areas.
Follow these additional tips to keep your hearing aids clean and dry outdoors:
- Always check the weather and keep a hat or umbrella handy. This will help you avoid getting drenched by a surprise downpour!
- Exercise indoors or during the cooler parts of the day.
- Be extra careful when applying products like sunscreen and insect repellent. The chemicals in these oily substances will damage your hearing aids. Make sure you fully apply your sunscreen without your hearing aids on and completely rub it in before reinserting your hearing aids.
- Wipe down your hearing aids after sweating to prevent bacteria growth.
How to Clean Wet Hearing Aids
If you do accidentally get your hearing aids wet, don’t panic—they aren’t necessarily damaged beyond repair. Here’s what to do:
- Turn off your hearing aid and discard the battery. A wet battery can cause further damage to your device.
- Gently dry your hearing aid with a towel. If it has fallen into dirty, salty or soapy water, gently rinse it with clean water before drying it off.
- Use a hearing aid dry box or hearing aid drying kit to completely remove moisture. Put your hearing aids into the dryer with the battery door open and allow to dry overnight. Don’t have a hearing aid dryer? You can use the old method of placing them in uncooked rice or leave them to air dry for 24 to 48 hours. Never use an oven, microwave or hot blow dryer to dry your hearing aids, as strong heat can be even more damaging than water.
- Once your device is dry, install fresh batteries. Check to make sure your device is working properly. Water-damaged hearing aids will produce distorted, crackling sounds.
- If you still experience issues, consult your hearing aid provider.
Beating the Heat
Spending some time in the sun won’t harm your hearing aids, but excessive heat (from extreme weather, leaving your hearing aids in direct sunlight, etc.) can damage internal components, melt external components and drastically reduce battery life.
Here are a few tips for keeping your hearing aids safe from heat:
- If you need to remove your hearing aids, make sure to leave them out of direct sunlight. When you remove your hearing aids at the pool, leave them in a cool, shaded place in their waterproof container.
- If you’ll be in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, wear a hat to shade your hearing aids from excessive heat.
- Never store your hearing aids in the glove compartment of a car or any other area where they will be exposed to high heat.
- Remove your hearing aids before blow-drying your hair.
- Firing up the barbecue? Remember your hearing aid batteries are especially sensitive to high temperatures.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes. Rapid changes in temperature can cause condensation to form on the inner wiring of your hearing aid, which can lead to short circuiting.
Your hearing aids are a big investment, and you want them to last you for many years. Though summer weather can present a challenge to these high-tech devices, these steps will help you keep them functioning at peak performance, so you can enjoy all the wonderful sounds of the season. The better you take care of your hearing aids, the better they’ll take care of you.
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