There are a lot of different things that can harm the delicate technology that makes a hearing aid work the way it does, but not many have the impact of water. Hearing aids seem to self-destruct under extreme moisture conditions. Even if you already know that and take care to protect your investment from the shower, pool, or a good face washing, chances are you are missing the most common cause of water damage in hearing aids: humidity.
Irreversible damage is done by invisible moisture. It’s time to understand more about why humidity is a negative thing for hearing aids.
Let’s Talk About Humidity
Despite the fact that the word humidity is very common, what does it really mean? PBS describes humidity as water molecules in the air. When displayed as a percentage, for example, the relative humidity is 40 percent today, it refers to the amount of water vapor in the air compared to what air could hold. When you can feel wetness in the air, that means the relative humidity is high.
Humans are very sensitive to humidity because sweat is the most efficient way to cool the body. When humidity levels are too high our sweat won’t evaporate as quickly. Moisture and electronics don’t mix well and that includes hearing aids.
Typically Electronic Devices Have a Hard Time Coping With Humid Weather
Too high or, too low, humidity can affect your hearing aids. When it’s too moist, the intricate electronics will collect condensation. When it’s too dry things become more brittle.
Hearing aids rely heavily on internal electronics to function. Newer digital hearing aids use a state-of-the-art audio processing chip to manage noise. It’s what is behind elegant features like:
- Noise reduction
- Targeted listening programs
- Digital sound streaming
High humidity causes moisture to accumulate inside the hearing aids damaging that chip. Batteries get wrecked and you get corrosion of elements inside of the case. You might as well throw your hearing aid in a tub full of water, and the effect is the same.
How to Control Humidity
Water resistant models are currently on the market. This feature will give you some protection against humidity and wet weather, but you still can’t swim with them in.
When it’s very humid try to minimize indoor water vapor by using a dehumidifier. It’s not just your hearing aid that will benefit, there are health benefits, and other electronics in your house will also be protected. Dust mites, mildew, and mold thrive in moist environments so a dehumidifier will improve the quality of breathing as well. Although a house or room dehumidifier will help protect your hearing aids, it’s not enough. There are a few other things you can and should do.
Consider buying a dehumidifier designed especially for hearing aids. There is one out there for every budget. Silica gel crystals in a drying kit are used to protect electronics. Moisture is eliminated by putting the hearing aids into the dehumidifier for a couple of hours. There are also storage containers that dry hearing aids out each night as you sleep. If it is very humid and you have no other way, uncooked rice can reduce moisture.
Don’t forget to leave the battery door open when you store your device. By pulling that door open before you put the hearing aid down, you expose the batteries and other elements to the air, allowing any condensation built up to evaporate naturally. Don’t just do this in the summer, do it all year round.
Always store your hearing aids in a cool, dry place. On the table in the sun, in the glove compartment, or in a hot room are examples of where not to store your hearing aids.
Other Moisture Considerations
Air vapor is not the only moisture that can damage hearing aids. Take precautions to protect them from other kinds of wet such as:
- Make sure all lotion or sunscreen is fully absorbed before touching your hearing aids or putting them in your ears.
- Leave your hearing aids in a safe place before you go swimming.
- When exercising wear a sweatband. It’s a good practice whether you wear your hearing aids when you workout or not. Sweat in your ears can cause problems later.
- Check surfaces before you put your hearing aid down. You don’t want to place it in a wet spot left by a glass or coffee cup.
Treat your hearing like the valuable asset that it is. Consider how moisture and humidity can impact them and take steps to prevent water damage. If your hearing aid already has water damage make an appointment for service with a hearing aid specialist.