Hearing Aids and the Perils of Moisture

Hearing aids and moisture are not the best combination. What can happen when hearing aids are exposed to moisture and what to do to prevent moisture problems.

My dad once dropped his cell phone in the toilet. I also had a friend whose cell phone fell off his nightstand directly into a glass of water. What are the chances? Then there was the neighbor, in college, who spilled an entire can of soda on her laptop. Also, there was the digital camera which I dropped in a puddle at the zoo.  Some of these devices were salvageable; some were not. Either way, the point is moisture is not good for electronics.

I reflect and counsel a lot about potential threat of moisture in my work with hearing aids. If you think about it they are at much greater risk for exposure and damage than other gadgets. Whether it is earwax, perspiration, or precipitation, moisture has the potential to cause harm.  On top of the regular threats, there are the unfortunate souls that have put their aids in the pocket of a shirt or jacket and then put that piece of clothing through the washing machine. There are also those that, forgetting they are wearing the devices, have jumped in the shower. Though modern hearing aids now come standard with moisture coatings and protections, few are totally waterproof.  In my experience moisture damage is one of the top reasons for hearing aid repair and replacement.

Moisture can destroy the microphones and/or the receiver (speaker) of the hearing aid. It can clog the sound opening or, in the case of some behind-the-ear models, earmold tubing. Moisture can also cause corrosion inside the aid and battery compartments. It can cause changes to sound quality in the hearing aid such as a static sound. It may also cause the hearing aid to operate intermittently or not at all!

How do we avert the threat of moisture on these expensive devices?

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Sarah Nordberg, AuD is an audiologist at Affinity Hearing in Plymouth.  She may be reached at 763-744-1190 for any questions.  Affinity Hearing provides free hearing screenings and hearing protection consults to the general public.

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