It’s official – with another annual 4th of July celebration right around the corner, the summer of 2015 is finally here. For most of us that means warm weather and high temperatures along with an increase in time spent outside enjoying the sun. Summertime also means family vacations, swimming pool parties and outdoor sporting activities. The warmer weather presents its own unique set of challenges to be aware of such as sunburn, travel inconveniences and heat-related effects on the body. For those that wear hearing aids, summertime also requires some extra care maintenance and preparedness to ensure that their warm weather experiences are good ones.
With that in mind, here are a few tips for hearing aid users to keep in mind during the summer months to help avoid damage that can shorten the life of your hearing aids or inconveniences that could affect your travel plans.
1. Avoid direct sunlight or extreme heat. Hearing aids contain tiny, delicate elements inside that can be easily damaged by excessive heat caused by direct sunlight or being left in hot places such as the inside of a car. Also, since the outer casing is generally made of plastic, higher temperatures can cause the plastic to melt. Therefore, when you’re outside, wearing a hat is a good way to protect them from direct sunlight. When you’re not wearing them, proper storage in a cool, dry place such as a hearing aid case will help keep your devices in good, working order.
2. Clean your hearing aids regularly. Fungi, bacteria and germs tend to grow and flourish in the high heat and humidity of summertime. Therefore, in order to keep your hearing aids free of these pesky visitors it is important to regularly disinfect them with microbial products or towelettes to aid in killing off infection causing microbes. Also, be careful when applying sunscreen around your face and ears because it can easily clog your hearing aids and lead to costly repairs. A small brush or tool to remove wax buildup from the speaker and microphone screen often comes with your hearing aids. Use this more often in the summer for extra cleanliness.
3. Be aware of moisture and how to combat it. Dampness, condensation and moisture in general can be one of your hearing aids worst enemies and can damage the small parts inside. Severe temperature changes like going from the balmy heat at the beach to the cool, air-conditioned mall or movie theatre can cause moisture to develop. Other things to be aware of are sweat, rain, splashes and of course swimming. To prevent moisture from building up, a soft, dry micro-fiber cloth can be used to wipe your hearing aids regularly. Also, to help absorb moisture when exercising outdoors a Hearing Aid Sweat Band can be used. Another good investment is a dry aid jar. These can be purchased on this website - DRY AID JAR - or in some cases your local pharmacy. Remember to keep the battery compartment open when not in use or in the dry aid jar overnight. This will promote good airflow help combat moisture build up.
4. Waterproof DOES NOT mean water-resistant. Speaking of swimming, water-resistant hearing aids and accessories can help protect against MINOR water intrusions – not total submersion events like swimming. Best practice is to remove your hearing aids before swimming or showering, however if you must wear them at these times then be sure you have the proper, quality waterproof hearing aid required. Knowing the difference can prolong the life of your devices. If you’re unsure whether your hearing aids are water-resistant or waterproof, check with a hearing specialist for clarification.
5. Travel preparation. When travelling with hearing aids, a little preparation ahead of time can save a lot of headaches later. A great idea is to make a checklist beforehand that includes the supplies you will need such as extra and/or rechargeable batteries and if required extra tubes and/or domes. Don’t forget to include other accessories like your overnight storage case, a dehumidifier and a good supply of towelettes and drying cloth as well.
6. Security considerations. People with hearing loss often find themselves confused or overwhelmed when travelling because of unfamiliar surroundings and modes of travel. For example, being in a new place such as a hotel room can make it easier to misplace your devices when you take them off. Having a hearing aid travel kit can help develop a new “routine” to alleviate this. Also, many hearing aids have the ability to adjust to background noises that are normally present in an individual’s daily activities. When travelling, the presence of different excess noises may require manual volume adjustments by the user to accommodate. Some hearing aids can set off airport security scanners, so it may be necessary to interact with security officials to make them aware of your hearing loss. On the bright side, your hearing aids are exempt from the no-electronic-device policy onboard, so you will not have to remove them on the plane. Another thing to keep in mind – be prepared to be more visually aware of your surroundings. Most airports, hotels, trains etc. have added additional communication methods to help those with hearing loss manage easier. However, you need to be aware of what these are for your specific situation ahead of time and some may require you to be proactive and ask or setup ahead of time (i.e. Asking that alerts for gate changes at airports or train stations be sent to your cell phone).
Hearing aids make life a little easier for thousands of people worldwide living with hearing loss. During the summer months, warm weather and travel considerations often present some new challenges to hearing aids and those that wear them. However, with some advanced preparation and due diligence these can be overcome, making summertime the enjoyable family experience it was meant to be.
Finally, if you ever have questions in regards to your hearing aids and how to properly maintain them year round, not just during summertime, but sure to contact your hearing loss professional.