March 31, 2010

Ask the Audiologist

By Tara Hartman, AU.D, CCC-A
Audiology Consultants, P.C.

Why do my hearing aids always need repair?

This is a loaded question. The answer is that it depends. Not what you wanted to hear, right? Well, there are a lot of factors that can play a part in the wear and tear of a hearing aid from the make and model to the individual wearing the hearing aid. Let’s talk about some of the most common problems that cause hearing aids to need a repair.

Hearing aids are like any other device that is used heavily every day. Daily use can be enough to wear it out, eventually. The better you take care of it, the more life you typically get out of it. Let’s use a car as an example. If you park your car outside and expose it to all the elements (rain, snow, hail, etc.) and you drive it everyday, never wash it, never take it in for tune-ups or oil changes, then eventually your car is going to break down and need a repair. But if you wash it often, take it in for tune-ups, and keep it out of the hazardous elements, then your car will typically last longer and perform better.

You can probably see where I’m going with this. Hearing aids are often exposed to moisture (sweat, oils, rain, etc), dirt and dust, and ear wax. They are small so they are often dropped and while hearing aids are pretty durable, one good drop may knock something loose. Hearing aids can take a pretty good beating everyday but if you inspect them each night and clean them regularly, they may just work a little longer for you. Hearing aid dryers are available and can significantly improve the life and performance of your hearing aid. Dryers help keep moisture out of the hearing aid so there is less corrosion and cutting out issues. Make sure to bring your hearing aids in to your hearing aid professional for regular cleanings, tube changes, and inspections to make sure they are always performing at their best.

Occasionally hearing aids will break down even if you take excellent care of them. Often times it is a part inside the hearing aid that cannot be cleaned regularly and it eventually wears out. The microphones and speakers are very vulnerable to break down because of their location and fragility. Even with protective coverings, the smallest piece of dirt, moisture, or wax can cause damage to the microphone or speaker. Just remember that it is not uncommon for a hearing aid to need a repair once or twice within its lifetime, and the older a hearing aid gets, the more frequent it may need a repair.

Your audiologist will do his or her best to make sure the hearing aid stays functioning at its best without having to send it in for repair. They will also teach you how to care for your hearing aid and to know what to look for to troubleshoot any problems. If you feel your hearing aid is needing repairs too often, discuss this with your audiologist to find out specifically what the problem might be.

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