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What Are The Best Cleaning Tools For My Hearing Aid.
Whether you have an NHS hearing aid or private aid. Cleaning your hearing aid is an important factor in its overal maintienece and longetvity. With both types of ways you go about getting a hearing aid you may or may not be supplied with some cleaning tools. More so what is recommended is that you have your hearing aid checked every 6 months, if something has happend to your hearing aid in between this time and it could just be something very simply that you could repair yourself.
We look at tools of the trade you can purchase to keep your hearing aid at its best.
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tool: Air Puffer
An air puffer or blower is a small tool about 10 cm by 4 cm in size. They normally look blue or grey in colour with a small balloon shape and a thin white plastic or metal snout at the end. If condensation build up in your hearing aid tubing is a common problem you find with your hearing aid. You can purchase an air puffer that will prove a worthwhile investment.
It is very simple to use. Take the behind the ear hearing aid section (the part with the battery inside) out of the tubing. Insert the white tip into the end of the tubing either at the entrace of the mould or to the bit that connects to the hearing aid. It is important to remove the behind the ear hearing aid from the tubing first to make sure you do not force any water hiding in the tube up into the aid itself. Inside the puffer is a one way valve which means it prevents reverse air flow.
I would say about 3 big squeezes of the puffer should be enough to clear out the water inside it, moisture or condensation build up in the tubing. Sometimes it can be simple as moisture in the tubing that is stopping your hearing aid from working. So having this little puffer at home can help to avoid the need for a hearing aid repair appointment. I have to say this is one of those products that if you have had a hearing aid for years and condensation build up has been an issue you will find yourself thinking, why have I not bought this before. It is not an expensive tool either generally ranging from £5- £8 to buy.
This type of air puffer also is multi purpose and I have personally used it on a variety of other applications such as cleaning hairs or dust of camera lens to help keep them clean as well as using it to blow out dust that collects between the keys.
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tool: Vent Cleaner
Many hearing aid ear moulds also contain what is called a " Vent " . This is a narrow little hole that goes through the mould at a point that is on the outside of the ear to inside of the earmould facing the ear canal. The point of a vent is to reduce the occlusion and blocked feeling you can feel by having a plastic ear mould in the ear. The larger the vent the more this feeling will be reduced. A vent can also help aerate the ear which is really important if you suffer from ear infections or have a hole in your ear drum. Also if you suffer from itchy ears, eczema or find the ear mould is causing irritation, a vent can help. Generally a hearing aid vent will be between 0.5 - 3mm in diameter. It tends to be either added at the time of the ear mould being made by the manufactuer or by the hearing specialist or audiologist themselves.
A common problem with a vent is that if frequently turns into not being a vent in a very short space of time. This can be due to wax or a mixture of debris, wax and moisture that accumilates inside it and blocks it. Being such a small hole it can be very difficult to clean. A vent cleaner can help, this is simply a thin plastic wire designed specifically for the small diameter of the vent to push out any wax or debris.
When choosing a vent cleaner be careful it is infact a vent cleaner or states that it can be used on a hearing aid vent. Some hearing aid wire cleaners can infact be for thin tubing and not quite the right size. If you have the option to buy one that has multiple sizes that will help make sure you find one that is widen enough (however minimal) to push out all the vent debris.
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tool: Brushes
As a hearing aid sits in your it will come into contact with ear wax, dry skin, hair and general day to day debris. Having a small hearing aid brush can be very handy. They used to be provided with hearing aids but these days to get them you generally need to buy them. This is a much more sustainable approach. Most hearing aid brushes are made of a black hard plastic material to reduce well noticed discolouration to the brush after many uses. Being a sturdy, simple plastic also makes it very easy to clean.
Measuring roughly 5cm in length and the brush tips themselves measuring 5mm. You will generally find 5 -7 strands of tough plastic bristles on the brush, designed to easily remove wax and debris from the hearing aid.
Some hearing aid brushes are just brushes others are made into a multi -function hearing aid tool with a small magnet to the top of the brush, this is a fantastic little feature to help lift up a hearing aid battery out of its packet and into the hearing aid. If you have arthritis or shaky hands this can be an extremely helpful tool. To the base of the brush you may also find a plastic loop which can be used to poke into the tubing of your ear mould to hook out any wax that is easy to grab hold of. The loop means there are no sharp or pointy edges that you are poking into your hearing aid that could damage it.
Depending on whether it is just the brush or a hearing aid multi tool brush the price can range from £2 to £10 in price.
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tool: Cleaning Wires
A hearing aid cleaning wire is designed for lifetubing or slim / thin tubing. This is different to your standard hearing aid tubing thats fits into a mould as slim tubing doesn't use a mould it instead uses a small dome to fit into your ear.
The cleaning wire is a thin plastic pipe cleaner generally in a blue or black colour and measuring 10 cm in length. The wire is flexible not rigid making it maneuverable through the thin tubing. It is ideally designed to push through any wax, moisture or debris in the tubing, due to the very narrow nature of the tubing the sound has to travel it can get easily blocked and if it does this will stop you hearing through your hearing aid.
To use the hearing aid cleaning wire it is important you remove the hearing aid from the tubing first as you do not want to push any ear wax or debris into the hearing aid itself. To remove it may require you to either unscrew it or unclip it off. Then push the cleaning wire all the way through it, sometimes it may get stuck at the bends to the slim tubing but just continue to push it through gently. Once it is all the way through, wipe the cleaning wire clean with a tissue or wipe and then screw the top of the tubing back on to the hearing aid. If the tubing was blocked your hearing aid should then come back to life.
The price of a hearing aid cleaning wire will depend mainly on how many are in a packet, they tend to be dispatched as either one, five, ten or thirty wires with a price range of £2 to £8
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tool: Wax Guard
As a hearing aid user or some one who has a friend or relative with a hearing aid you will be aware ear wax can be a problem. It can cause a hearing aid to whistle or even block up. A wax guard is designed to protect the receiver part to your hearing aid, unlike your hearing aid tubing if wax, moisture or debris gets into the receiver the hearing aid has a likelyhood of becoming faulty or dying.
A wax guard is a very small piece of plastic, it generally looks round in shape with what looks like small holes. A wax guard are used mainly within in the ear (ITE) hearing aids as these in particular bode the problem of having the workings of the hearing aid within your ear or even ear canal where it can be very waxy. A wax guard can also be for whats called a receiver in the ear hearing aid (RITE) as it is just that a receiver in the ear or ear canal so it needs to be protected. You will need to replace the wax guard every month or every 6 months depending on how much ear wax you produce.
A hearing aid wax guard is made mostly by manfucturers that specifically make hearing aids. So you will find wax guards by Oticon, Resound, Starkey, Signia and Widex. Which you need will correlate to the make of hearing aid that you have.
The wax guard will come with a tool or applicator to attach and remove the wax guard. If we use the Oticon Pro Wax Minifit as an example it will come as a small wheel that will have six to eight applicators on it. Each one will have two points to it, one with an empty prong and the other will have a new wax guard on it. The empty prong is used to place into the old wax guard on the hearing aid to remove it and once removed push the new one into its place. It is straight forward yet a little fiddly to do. If instead you using for example Starkey the wax guards will come in a box like a small pack of cigarettes that contain plastic wax guard sticks. Each stick will have a wax guard remover to one end of the stick and the applicator of a new wax guard at the other end.
You are looking at spending between £5 and £15 for the right wax guard for your hearing aid but remember some hearing aids do not need these so a wax guard is only something you need to consider if you wear any type of ITE or RITE hearing aid.
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tool: Dehumidifier Case
Also known as a hearing aid drying pot, If you suffer with sweaty ears, or a build up of moisture in your hearing aid tubing. A hearing aid dehumidifier case can help to remove moisture from the hearing aid overnight. A hearing aid dehumidifer case come in different shapes and sizes but all do the same job. It requires no batteries or electricity to work just a lining of a dehumidifier sponge or drying capsule to absorb the moisture. A drying capsule will consist of a sillica gel tablet, this will last you up to a month of use, certain dehumidifier sponges can last for 6 months. A capsule will be roughly 3cm by 1cm in size. It is a shame there is not environmentally friendly as the drying capsules having to be replaced reguarly making it quite wasteful.
There is a more environmentally friendly option which uses a gentle dry heat to remove moisture from your hearing aid instead. This is a small electronic container with the option of a 3 or 6 hour drying time. This type of dehumidifying case cannot be left overnight therefore you will need to use it for a few hours before you get on with your day, this has the negative that when you are up you really should have your hearing aid in.
A hearing aid dehumidifier can really helpful in keeping your hearing aid fresh and moisture free. A dehumidifer case will work with all types and styles of hearing aid as moisture can affect all hearing aids in some way. It will cost you between £5 to £40 depending on which hearing aid dehumidifier case you go for.
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tool: Hearing Aid Specific Cleaning Wipes
This is a cleaning wipe that is designed for hearing aids in mind. They contain anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties which are helpful for those who have a hearing aid but also get constant ear infections. This type of wet wipe needs to have the right alcohol content to make it hygenic yet gentle on the skin as some wet wipes are designed for surface cleaning with a higher alcohol content.
If you can get a small packet of hearing aid specific wet wipes this can be very handy for placing in your hand bag, car or when you are travelling somewhere or on holiday. Wipes or tissues come individually wrapped or on a sealed container. You are looking at £5 to £12 for a packet of hearing aid specific cleaning wipes.
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tool: Hearing Aid Cleaning Fluid
Using a bottle and cleaning fluid specifically for cleaning hearing aids is a more eco-friendly alternative to using wipes as you can use the bottle to spray onto a a general cloth or tissue to wipe your hearing aid over. Be careful not to rub too much over the receiver part to the hearing aid and thoroughly wipe dry afterwards. This is a great way to remove grime, oil, residue or even ear wax from the hearing aid. It is also quick drying and simple to use.
Hearing Aid Cleaning Tool: All In One Cleaning Kit
With an all in one cleaning kit you would expect to find:
- A hearing aid brush
- A hearing aid tubing cleaner
- A hearing aid vent cleaner
- A magnet
- A hearing aid wax remover
The above tools can be assembled into a small all in one device. If your lucky your kit may also contain an air blower and dehumidifier case but this will be a bigger container than a simple tool to carry in your hand bag. It should come within a compact and lightweight carry container with a handle. You are looking at spending between £7 to £20 on a good hearing aid cleaning kit.
Remember, the more care you take of your hearing aids, the longer they will last, so any or all of the above cleaning tips and equipment will greatly benefit your overall hearing quality, because a clean hearing aid is a better hearing aid.