Today, medical-grade hearing aids and supplies are designed with quality materials and advanced technology. While more than 35 million people have hearing loss in the United States, only one in four adults has reportedly taken steps to improve their hearing. The latest models of hearing aids can help many and often last many years with proper care.
When you get new hearing aids, you'll likely receive a package of essential supplies and accessories to get you started. In most cases, however, you'll need to buy extra hearing aid supplies to prolong the device. Maintenance and keeping up with supplies is vital to get the most out of your hearing aids and avoid costly replacements.
Here is a list of the most common hearing aid supplies for optimal listening experiences.
Hearing Aid Microphone, Amplifier, and Receiver
In most hearing aids, the body includes the microphone, amplifier, and speaker (also known as the speaker)—the exception being RIC hearing aids, in which the receiver sits at the end of a thin electrical wire in your ear. These are the most fragile and expensive components, but they'll last for years with proper care before needing to be replaced or upgraded with a newer model. In general, these should be kept clean and free of moisture. If hearing problems persist, you may want to visit a local hearing clinic.
Maintenance Tip: Whenever you notice any cracks, broken parts, or exposed wires on the body of your hearing aid, contact your audiologist to have it repaired or replaced.
Hearing Aid Batteries
Depending on the model, most hearing aids use a specific type of disposable zinc-air battery. Other hearing aids, like the MDHearing VOLT, may have self-contained rechargeable lithium batteries. Disposable hearing aid batteries are available in four main sizes; the larger the battery, the longer it lasts.
- Size 675 Batteries (blue tab) – lasts 9-21 days
- Size 13 Batteries (orange tab) – lasts 6-40 days
- Size 312 Batteries (brown tab) – lasts 5-12 days
- Size 10 Batteries (yellow tab) – lasts 4-6 days
Hearing aid batteries last anywhere from a few days to more than a month. The duration will depend on the type of battery, level of hearing loss, frequency hearing aids are worn, and use of advanced features.
Maintenance Tip: After removing the protective tab, be sure to wait at least one minute before inserting the battery so that it has time to activate and lasts longer. Additionally, open the battery door when your hearing aids are not in use in order to help your batteries last longer.
Hearing Aid Tips, Domes, and Earmolds
Hearing aid tips and domes are silicone pieces that attach to the end of the tubing of BTE and RIC hearing aids. The tips are typically shaped like a funnel, dome, or mushroom and designed to be one-size-fits-most rather than customized. MDHearing’s hearing aids use ComfortTIPs, which are curved tips ergonomically designed to follow the shape of your ear canal.
- Open Domes – Open domes contain several holes to allow airflow and natural sounds (like your own voice) to be heard. This type of dome helps reduce what's called "the occlusion effect," which makes sounds hollow. Open domes are most suited for people with high-frequency hearing loss.
- Closed Domes – Closed domes have only one small hole and are mostly closed to block out external sounds. They're often recommended when hearing loss is moderate to severe.
- Power Domes – Power domes are the most occlusive domes. This type of dome is used for people with moderate to severe hearing loss.
An earmold is custom-fitted to the shape of your ear, so it stays securely in place and prevents feedback noises. They serve the same purpose as tips and domes, but with a more custom fit and added cost. Some earmolds have an extra hole used for venting to keep out moisture and improve the sound quality.
- Hard Earmolds – hard, custom earpieces made of plastic or acrylic
- Soft Earmolds – soft, flexible custom earpieces made of silicone or other soft materials
Maintenance Tip: Domes are easy to clean but should be replaced every couple of months due to damage frequently caused by moisture and earwax.
Hearing Aid Tubing
Hearing aid tubes are commonly made from plastic and come in different sizes, shapes, and lengths. Although there is a standard tubing size, some earmolds will only fit thinner or thicker tubing. If you have problems with moisture getting in your hearing aid tubes, your earmold may be able to accommodate a stay-dry tubing that keeps it from building up.
- Standard Tubing – diameter is 2.16 mm inside and 3.17 mm outside
- Slim Tubing – diameter is 1.93 mm inside and 3.10 mm outside
- Thick Tubing – diameter is 1.93 mm inside and 3.60 mm outside
- Stay Dry Tubing – available in standard or thick sizes
Maintenance Tip: Change tubing every three to six months or whenever it becomes discolored or loses its shape.
Hearing Aid Wax Traps
Some hearing aids have wax traps, also known as wax guards or wax filters, that fit the receiver. Wax traps are designed to prevent wax, moisture, and debris from getting inside the hearing aid and causing it to malfunction. The wax traps have small holes that can get plugged up and cause the sounds to be weakened, indicating that it's time to change them.
The amount of wax your ear produces determines how often you need to change the wax traps. Some people need to change theirs every couple of weeks, while others can go for several months. Check your manufacturer's instructions on how to change the wax traps because they can vary in design and usually require a unique tool to remove and insert.
Maintenance Tip: Keeping your ears free of wax by using an earwax removal system can help reduce the frequency of replacing wax traps and other hearing aid parts.
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tools
One of the most important maintenance practices is knowing how to clean hearing aids. There are several different cleaning supplies to keep your hearing aid performing at its best.
- Wire/Wax Loop and Brush – Most hearing aids come with a wax remover loop or wire and a small brush designed to remove earwax that often builds up. When the tubing, earmold, or tip is clogged, it can interfere with the quality of sound. Depending on the manufacturer, your hearing aid cleaning tool may have a long wax wire or a short wax loop on one end and a small brush on the other end. The brush can also be used to clean the microphone gently.
- Cleaning Sprays and Wipes – You can buy sprays or wipes made to clean and deodorize parts of your hearing aids. Some of these cleaners contain a disinfectant that effectively kills harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi that may be found on the earpieces.
- Hearing Aid Air Blower – If you often sweat or get the area around your hearing aid wet, moisture can block the opening in your tips and tubing. Water often accumulates if the earmold doesn't have a vent hole. When build-up prevents you from hearing correctly, sometimes it's better to use an air blower. A tubing air blower works by forcing condensation and debris out of the hearing aid.
Maintenance Tip: Don't use water or alcohol to clean your hearing aid because they can damage the electronic components. Instead, use a microfiber cloth to wipe away contaminants.
Hearing Aid Dehumidifiers and Sanitizers
Moisture can build up in all areas of your hearing aid, especially if you live in a humid climate. When water collects, it can block the tubing so that sound can't get through. Moisture can also damage the electronic components and battery compartment, causing corrosion and rust. There are several products designed to get rid of moisture in your hearing aids.
- Dehumidifier Jar – Non-electric or battery-powered drying cups contain a desiccant substance designed to absorb sweat, condensation, and other types of moisture. The desiccant can be in various forms, including linings, discs, and beads.
- UV-Clean and Dry Box – Electric dehumidifiers use heat to eliminate moisture and ultraviolet (UV) light to kill bacteria, viruses, and other harmful germs. Unlike regular hearing aid dryers, UV cleaners sanitize your hearing aids.
Your hearing aids have several vital components that make them effective at helping you hear better. The microphone, amplifier, and receiver are fragile and can be easily damaged. That's why it's important to know how each one works and to understand the care that’s needed.
Other parts (like the batteries, earmolds, tips, domes, and tubing) don’t take much to keep clean or replace. However, when moisture, ear wax, and debris build up, it can prevent you from hearing clearly. With the many cleaning tools and dehumidifiers available, regular maintenance becomes an easy enough task.
There are many top hearing aid brands on the market, but MDHearing offers doctor-designed and FDA-registered devices along with all the hearing aid supplies you need. When you buy from us, you have the option of getting extra coverage for the repair or replacement of your hearing aids through the MDShield Protection Plan. If you or a loved one have trouble hearing, you can take our free online hearing test for immediate results.
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