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QA: How to help your hearing aids work better and last longer

Home cleaning to maintenance, Nanaimo hearing professional shares what you need to know
From left, Hanan Merrill, Shelagh Merrill, Renae Barr and Rhian from Nanaimo Hearing Clinic.

You just got your first pair of hearing aids and you’re feeling good! You can hear your favourite television shows and music again, you can chat with your loved ones – even amid the background chatter of a restaurant – and you feel your confidence returning a little more each day.

Just don’t forget, that marvel of modern technology requires a little TLC to continue to function at its best .

We sat down with Hanan Merrill, owner of Nanaimo Hearing Clinic, to answer some of the most common questions he receives about hearing aid care, maintenance and follow-up fine-tuning.

Q: How often do hearing aids need to be cleaned?

A: Exact cleaning schedules vary from user to user but generally speaking hearing aids should be wiped off weekly with a soft cloth and have their filters changed every four to six weeks. They do need time to dry out as well but many people put them in a drying system overnight – either a container with silica beads or an air-based one.

Q: I have my hearing aids, why do I need my hearing rechecked?

A: It’s not uncommon to see a client again shortly after they’ve been fitted with their first set of hearing aids. They might need more help learning how to use them or feel overwhelmed by how noisy the world is after experiencing hearing loss for so long. In those cases, we may need to reduce the volume on the hearing aid until they’ve had time to adjust.

In general, we recommend an annual appointment for hearing aid fine-tuning and a hearing check-up. Our ears are constantly changing so we often need to adjust the prescription.

In other cases it might not be the ears that have changed, but the client’s lifestyle – maybe they’re in crowded or loud environments and need additional support navigating that. We do offer an ongoing program called ‘Always Hear Well’ that can be a great way for someone to stay on top of their hearing health. Program participants generally check in at least twice a year, which helps us get ahead of problems before they get worse.

Q: What’s the most common cause of a hearing aid suddenly not working?

A: We get calls quite often about this and most of the time it’s a filter that needs replacing. The filters can get clogged fairly quickly, depending on the individual and their unique ear environment. While we are always happy to take a look, it might be worth checking your filter first as it’s a quick and easy fix you can do at home.

Q: What other hearing aid maintenance might be needed?

A: There are two types of hearing aids: In-the-ear hearing aids, where the speaker is in your ear and over-the-ear hearing aids where the speaker is behind your ear. In-the-ear hearing aids use filters while over-the-ear hearing aids don’t have a filter but they do have a plastic tube and that piece needs to be changed when it gets hard and brittle.Some hearing aids also have vents that allow air flow, those vents need cleaning and in-the-ear hearing aids with ear buds require those earbuds to be wiped down or replaced.

Other than that, hearing aids typically require the regular maintenance discussed above – keeping up with regular cleaning, giving them time to dry out and swapping out those filters will all help keep your hearing aids working efficiently.

A well-cared-for hearing aid on average can last a user five years or even longer in some cases.

For more hearing tips, book an appointment with Nanaimo Hearing Clinic by calling 250-585-4100 or visit Find Nanaimo Hearing Clinic at 501-5800 Turner Rd. in Cactus Club Plaza, Nanaimo.

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