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How to take care of hearing aids in the winter

There seems to be something of a conspiracy of silence when it comes to looking after our hearing aids. We are diagnosed, fitted, and then find ourselves out on the street, metaphorically speaking. What about looking after hearing aids in the winter?

After purchasing hearing aids, you get basic advice on batteries and basic care, such as not to wear hearing aids in the bath or shower. But what about taking care of hearing aids in the winter? Not so long ago I didn’t have a clue how to answer that one either.

Read more: My Hearing Loss Journey: from realisation, diagnosis, and beyond

Taking care of hearing aids in the winter

Play by the rules

The first thing might seem obvious but is still worth mentioning. If you happen to play winter sports, do take out your aids. Since its wintertime, there’s a certain element of risk. Snow, ice, rain and the very real danger of slipping are all issues for which you should really prepare. If possible, this may mean leaving them behind. By doing this, you can let yourself go and enjoy the blast without the worry that you might wind up the session with a need to visit your audiologist.

If you need to wear your aids them, Phonak hearing aids have an IP68 rating, which means they are water resistant. Just keep in mind that they are not waterproof. For more protection, you should consider wearing headgear, even if it isn’t cool to do so.

If this falls on deaf ears (pun intended), you might want to check out cords, which can be bought really cheaply and can at least save you from losing your hearing aids altogether. You can also purchase hearing aid covers which can offer extra protection.

Batteries

The cold also affects, yep, you guessed it, batteries. Now before you say that you’ve heard it all before, wait a minute. The colder weather doesn’t just get into our bones. It’s also detrimental to our batteries. The most common problem is battery drain. That’s right, they suddenly don’t last as long as they used to. This can be a real pain, especially if like me, you can predict when your batteries will go and have new ones waiting and ready for action.

One solution is to always carry spare batteries with, something sensible because you can predict when you might just get a dud battery, it’s rare but, I’ve known one or two over the years.

Also, keeping your ears covered and warm while outdoors can go a long way to keeping your battery temperature as close to normal as possible

Down the tubes

Another issue to look out for this time of year is tubing problems. Not only can the plastic tubing used to connect our aids get moisture inside, but it can also become brittle if too cold. Feedback can be a result, which I imagine most of us have encountered at one time or another during our hearing aid use. Of course, this is far worse for those around us.

If you also suffer from tinnitus, as I do, it can be challenging to notice. Other sounds often become part of the background.

One way to combat blocked tubing, is to one a tube cleaning wire through on a regular basis. This consists of a thin piece of nylon that fits both tubes and rubber domes. Simply pushing one of these through the tubing will clean any wax deposits.

Unfortunately, nothing can be done to avert the brittle tubing. Attempting to keep your hearing aids warm with hats, scarves or muffs is the best way to go.

Read more: Ask Anna: What should I do if my hearing aids aren’t working?

Not to put a damper on things, but…

If you come in from the cold outdoors into the nice warm and snug inside, try to check your aids and wipe them dry. Hearing aids really dislike humidity and can quite easily malfunction if not treated well.

Investing in a dehumidifier is worthwhile. A Phonak D-Dry box is a great humidifier. It can save the lives of hearing aids and is super easy to use.

Winter freedom

The real secret to surviving this time of year with hearing aids intact is simply about being prepared before venturing out. It has nothing to do with not having fun or enjoying those winter elements. Just look after your hearing aids and don’t be afraid to get outside and join in.

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Author Details
Phonak hEARo, Phil is an author, journalist and therapist, living on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast with his wife Raine and their three children. Phil was diagnosed in 2016 with mild to moderate Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and tinnitus. He uses Phonak silver digital hearing aids with automatic volume controls.
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Phonak hEARo, Phil is an author, journalist and therapist, living on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast with his wife Raine and their three children. Phil was diagnosed in 2016 with mild to moderate Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and tinnitus. He uses Phonak silver digital hearing aids with automatic volume controls.
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