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Man holding a behind-the-ear hearing aid

Murphy’s Law tells us that “if anything can go wrong, it will.” A better variation 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 trying to protect our investment and stretch out its life.

You should certainly think of hearing aids in the same way. If you give things an opportunity to go wrong, they will; but if you’re proactive in your care and maintenance, your hearing aids can carry on and operate properly for years.

So what are some of the things that can go wrong? Here are the three principal threats to your hearing aids and what you can do to protect against them.

1. Physical breakdown

Opponent # 1 is physical destruction. Hearing aids contain sensitive electronics that are susceptible to damage from shock. To protect against this, remember to store your hearing aids in their storage cases whenever you’re not wearing them.

An effective guideline is that your hearing aids should be either in your ears or in the storage case at all times. Placing your hearing aids unprotected on any surface is just inviting Murphy’s Law to come and bump them off. Likewise, when you’re inserting or removing your hearing aids, it’s a good idea to do this over a soft surface in case they fall.

In addition, remember to check and replace the batteries often. You’re not doing the electronics any favors by forcing the hearing aids work on low battery power.

2. Moisture

Electronic devices and water do not mix, which anyone who’s dropped a cell phone in the sink understands all too well. Once immersed, there’s very little that can be done. But it requires much less than total submersion in water to harm your hearing aids.

Water, in the form of mist, can still work its way into the hearing aids and begin wreaking chaos. Consequently, you should avoid using hairspray, bug spray, or any other sprays while using your hearing aids. In addition, keep in mind that drastic changes in temperature can create condensation, for instance 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 problems. This is yet another reason that your bedside table drawer is probably the ideal place to keep your hearing aids when they aren’t being used.

3. Earwax and dirt

Even if you’ve guarded your hearing aids against physical damage and water with proper storage and the prevention of moisture, you’ll still have to protect against enemy # 3: dirt and grime.

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

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

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