» The Impact of Moisture and Humidity on Hearing Aids

The Impact of Moisture and Humidity on Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are remarkable devices. Over the years they have come a long way in terms of technology, offering enhanced sound clarity, advanced features such as artificial intelligence,  and discrete design. However, hearing aids require proper care and storage to ensure their longevity and optimal performance. In this blog, we will review how moisture and humidity can potentially damage hearing aids and preventative steps that can be taken.

The Battle with Moisture

Moisture poses a considerable threat to hearing aids, primarily due to their small size and intricate electronic components. Hearing aids are equipped with microphones, speakers, amplifiers, and sensitive circuitry, making them vulnerable to moisture-related damage.

Causes of Moisture Damage

  1. Sweat: For some individuals who wear hearing aids, perspiration can be a common occurrence. Sweat is particularly damaging to hearing aids due to its high concentration of sodium chloride (i.e. salt). Sweat can seep into the devices, leading to corrosion and short circuits. If the hearing aids are exposed to excessive sweating over long periods of time, this can result in diminished sound quality, intermittent functioning, or even complete device failure.
  2. Humid Environments: High humidity levels can also pose a risk to hearing aids. Moisture in the air can find its way into the devices, causing trapped condensation and subsequent damage. Places like saunas, steam rooms, and even bathrooms with hot showers can create an environment conducive to moisture-related problems. Humid climates, like ours in Nova Scotia, also pose a risk to hearing aids.
  3. Ear Wax: Excessive ear wax can also pose a risk to hearing aids. While some hearing aid users produce dry ear wax, others may produce wet ear wax. These users should be more diligent when it comes to hearing aid cleaning and drying.

Signs of Moisture Damage

  1. Battery Low Warning: Hearing a low battery warning signal much sooner than expected is a common sign of moisture damage in hearing aids.
  2. Intermittency:  A hearing aid that randomly turns off and on throughout the day is also a common sign of moisture damage.
  3. Poor Sound Quality: A hearing aid with increased low-level background noise or crackling sounds is a sign there is trapped moisture and potentially corrosion inside the hearing aid.

Preventive Measures

  1. Invest in Rechargeable Hearing Aids: A common entry point for moisture in hearing aids is via the battery door. Rechargeable hearing aids using lithium-ion batteries such as the Oticon Real, Phonak Lumity, and Widex Sheer have tamper-resistant casing or battery doors that cannot be opened by users. This provides less entry points and better protection against moisture.
  2. Invest in Moisture-Resistant or Waterproof Hearing Aids: Most new hearing aids come with a special coating or waterproof technology that helps protect them against moisture damage. Waterproof hearing aids, such as the Phonak Life are also now available.
  3. Invest in A Hearing Aid Charger That Doubles As A Dryer: Some hearing aid manufacturers offer a hearing aid charger that can charge and dry the hearing aids at the same time. The Smart Charger by Oticon is one example.
  4. Use Hearing Aid Sweatbands or Covers: Sweatbands or covers such as those offered by Ear Gear can act as a protective barrier between the hearing aids and moisture. These accessories are designed to absorb sweat and keep it away from the devices. They are particularly useful during physical activities or in hot, humid weather.
  5. Store Hearing Aids in a Dry Place: When not in use, it’s important to store hearing aids in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving them in the bathroom, kitchen, and car where humidity and temperatures tend to be higher. If using disposable hearing aid batteries or a hearing aid charger without drying capabilities, consider using a hearing aid dehumidifier such as a Perfect Dry Lux or a hearing aid drying kit.
  6. Regular Cleaning and Maintenance: Clean your hearing aids daily using the soft, dry cloth and brushes provided by your audiologist. Wax guards and domes should also be replaced every month, or sooner, if needed. Built up debris in the hearing aid’s microphones and speaker can hold moisture and contribute to moisture damage over time. Additionally, be sure to attend your hearing aid clean and check appointments with our clinic every 6 months.

Conclusion

Moisture and humidity  pose a significant risk to hearing aid performance and longevity. As an audiologist, I encourage everyone using hearing aids to be proactive in protecting their devices from moisture-related damage. By following the preventive measures mentioned above and adopting good maintenance practices, you can extend the lifespan of your hearing aids and enjoy the most optimal performance from your hearing aids.

Schedule an appointment with our clinic if you suspect any damage or issues with your hearing aids. We are happy to review proper cleaning techniques with you and provide you with the necessary cleaning supplies. We also have electronic UV hearing aid dryers and chargers that double as dryers for purchase, if needed.

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Blog Author

Lyndsay Bozec

REGISTERED AUDIOLOGIST, NSCASLP

Lyndsay is a passionate advocate for hearing health awareness and hearing preservation. Over the years she has delivered various hearing health presentations and hearing aid workshops for caregiver workshops across HRM.

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