Hearing aids are sophisticated pieces of technology and it’s very important that you look after yours with the proper care and attention. Hearing devices are a great investment in your hearing health and we want to make sure that you’ll get the most out of them.
Hearing aids come in two different styles: Behind the Ear (BTE) and In the Ear (ITE). Cleaning and maintaining your hearing aids can differ depending on whether they’re BTE or ITE. If you’re unsure about what category your hearing devices fall into, don’t hesitate to contact your audiologist.
Upon the initial fitting of your hearing aids, your audiologist will run you through the cleaning and management of your newly fitted devices. Usually, you’ll receive a tonne of information during that appointment, which can be overwhelming for some.
Don’t worry if you don’t recall all the details. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide on hearing aid maintenance. We think a little refresher never hurt anybody and it can be very useful to have a guide to refer to when you need it.
BTE style hearing aids have their processing body resting behind the ear. The processing unit either has a wire or tubing running down into the ear, which can be attached to a small bud (otherwise known as a dome) or an ear mould.
BTE hearing aid tubing comes in two forms: Thin tube or standard tubing. Standard tubing usually has wider diameter and is attached to a large ear-hook piece. The customisable earpieces are attached to the processing unit, both the processing units and earpieces with their tubing or wire will benefit from regular cleaning and maintenance.
Above, you can see an example of a BTE style hearing aid’s processing unit. BTE hearing aids usually have two microphones on each processing unit. The top red circle highlights the forward-facing microphone, the bottom circle highlights the backward facing microphone.
The microphones pick up sound for the processing unit for processing, if the microphones are blocked due to debris,wax, skin or moisture, no sound can be picked up and therefore the hearing aid will not appear to be working.
Both microphones will benefit from regular gentle brushing with a small brush supplied in the box supplied with your hearing aids. It is also suggested to regularly wipe the whole processing unit with a soft cloth usually included with the hearing aids – especially after exposure to moisture.
The above circle is usually where the thin tube attaches onto the hearing aid’s processing unit. Sound travels down the thin tube and exits through to the end piece as illustrated by the bottom red circle.
Wax, debris and moisture can build up in the tubing linking the two red circles, significant build-up can prevent sound from passing through and into the ear. Thin tubes can be changed routinely to prevent significant build-up. The team at your local Attune Hearing clinic will be happy to change the thin tube if requested.
The above circle attaches onto the BTE hearing aid’s processing unit. Information transfers through the wire which attaches onto the speaker end as seen in the below circle, sound is then being presented into the ear.
The speaker end usually has a wax filter on top in order to prevent it from entering the electronics. The wax filter will require regular changing. This can either be done with the tool provided with your hearing aids or at your Attune Hearing clinic. As the receiver is an electronic piece, it is prone to wear down over time. The receiver can be replaced if necessary, this can also be done at the clinic.
The output end of thin tubes and receivers could be a dome. Domes aid with retaining a thin tube and receiver in the ear, and for better comfort. As domes are situated inside the ear canal, wax may build-up inside the dome, therefore blocking sound from entering the ear. Domes may also require regular changing.
Domes may be tricky to change due to their size, if you are uncomfortable with changing domes, your hearing clinic would be happy to change it over the counter. Please be careful if you are changing the domes yourself, ensure that the newly placed dome is holding the output end of the thin tube or receiver before placing into your ear.
You may test the retention of the newly inserted dome by firmly tugging on the dome. Once put on, it should not come off too easily if it is retaining well. Domes may fall off the output end and remain in the ear canal if not put on correctly.
The output end of BTE hearing aids may be attached to an ear mould. An ear mould will benefit from regular wiping with the supplied cleaning cloth. Like domes, ear moulds can attract wax as it is situated in the ear canal. Ear moulds with built in receivers may have a wax filter to prevent wax from damaging the electronics, this wax filter will also require regular changing.
Some ear moulds may have a thicker tubing attached to it, compared to the previously mentioned thin tube. This is usually referred to as standard tubing. Standard tubing may require changing as they tend to wear-out over time. New tubes are only able to be inserted at your Attune Hearing clinic. Wax or moisture can build-up within standard tubes. To ensure the tubing is completely clear of blockages, it’s best to visit your hearing clinic for cleaning of the tubes.
An example of an ITE hearing aid is shown above. The microphones, processing chip and receiver are enclosed inside the small unit. Like BTE hearing aids, the microphones may become blocked with wax, debris and moisture. The two red circles are examples of where the microphones may be located on ITE hearing aids. The microphones may require brushing to prevent blockage.
ITE hearing aids’ receivers usually have a wax filter to prevent wax from getting into the electronics, the wax filter may require regular changing. The whole ITE hearing aid unit will also benefit from regular wiping with the provided cleaning cloth to remove wax, debris and moisture build up on the casing.
Hearing aids are prone to moisture build-up. Moisture build-up can affect the hearing aid’s performance and lifespan. To reduce chance of moisture build-up and prolong the lifespan on your hearing aids, it is advised to put your hearing aids in a container with a drying capsule regularly to draw out moisture. Drying capsules are particularly useful if you are prone to excessive perspiration or have had your hearing aids exposed to moisture and water.
Regular hearing tests and hearing aid assessment are part of the ongoing care for your hearing health.The cost may or may not be incorporated in the cost of your hearing aids. Check in with your clinic to confirm your level of coverage.
Reviews are usually every 12 months. Your hearing is again tested to monitor potential deterioration in your hearing. If your hearing has changed, adjustments may be necessary to your hearing aids to accommodate. Your hearing aids will be cleaned and checked for faults during your review appointment. If issues have been found with your hearing aids, your audiologist may need to change certain pieces to fix this issue.
If you have any questions regarding cleaning and maintaining your hearing aids, feel free to ask the audiologist during your review appointment or get in touch with your local Attune Hearing clinic. We’d be happy to answer all of your questions!