Safe Use and Maintenance of OTC Hearing Aids
December 24, 2023

Safe Use and Maintenance of OTC Hearing Aids

Safety and proper usage guidelines are essential for individuals using OTC hearing aids. With the increasing availability and popularity of these devices, it is crucial to ensure that users understand how to safely and effectively incorporate OTC hearing aids into their daily lives.

Proper Insertion and Removal of OTC Hearing Aids

  1. Clean Hands: Before handling your hearing aids, make sure your hands are clean and dry to avoid transferring any dirt or oils onto the devices.

  2. Locate the Correct Ear: Differentiate between your left and right ear to ensure you insert the hearing aid into the appropriate ear.

  3. Positioning the Hearing Aid:

    • Hold the hearing aid with the battery door facing upwards and the sound outlet (speaker) facing your ear.
    • Gently lift the upper part of your ear with your opposite hand to create a clear pathway for inserting the hearing aid.

  4. Insertion:

    • Tilt the hearing aid slightly forward and position the tip of the device into the ear canal.
    • Push the hearing aid gently and slowly into the ear canal until it feels snug and comfortable.
    • Avoid applying excessive force or pushing the device too far into the ear canal.

  5. Securing the Hearing Aid:

    • Once inserted, hold the hearing aid in place for a few seconds to allow it to settle securely in the ear canal.
    • Make sure the hearing aid feels comfortable and secure without causing any discomfort or pain.

  6. Removal:

    • To remove the hearing aid, gently grasp the device at the base or grip area, avoiding pulling on the tubing.
    • Slowly and carefully pull the hearing aid out of the ear canal, tilting it slightly downward to ease its removal.

  7. Cleaning and Storage:

    • After removal, clean the hearing aid as per the manufacturer's instructions, using specialized cleaning tools or a soft, dry cloth.
    • Store the hearing aids in a designated case or container when not in use, keeping them protected from dust, moisture, and accidental damage.

Cleaning and Maintenance

  1. Wipe with a Soft Dry Cloth: Use a soft, dry cloth or a cleaning wipe specifically designed for hearing aids to wipe the entire device. This will help remove any dirt, debris, or oils that may have accumulated on the surface of the hearing aid.

  2. Cleaning Sleeves: If your hearing aids have removable sleeves, you can clean them by gently removing the sleeves from the hearing aid and using a cleaning cloth to wipe all areas thoroughly. Pay attention to any crevices or hard-to-reach spots where debris may accumulate.

  3. Avoid Submerging: Never submerge your hearing aids in water or any other liquid. Moisture can damage the electronic components of the device. Instead, focus on cleaning the external surfaces using a dry cloth or specialized cleaning tools.

  4. Earmold Maintenance: If your hearing aids have earmolds, you can wash them with warm water and mild soap. Ensure that the earmold and tubing are completely dry before reattaching them to the hearing aid.

  5. Battery Compartment: Regularly inspect the battery compartment and clean it if necessary. Ensure that there is no corrosion or debris that could interfere with the proper functioning of the batteries.

  6. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using alcohol, solvents, or harsh cleaning chemicals on your hearing aids. These substances can damage the device's casing, microphone, and other components. Stick to gentle cleaning methods recommended by the manufacturer.

  7. Store Properly: When not in use, store your hearing aids in a designated case or container to protect them from dust, moisture, and accidental damage. Make sure the storage location is cool and dry.

The safe use and maintenance of hearing aids are of utmost importance for individuals with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. It is crucial to ensure that these devices are effective, reliable, and pose no harm to the users. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Safety and Effectiveness: OTC hearing aids should meet established standards to ensure their safety and effectiveness for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. The FDA has implemented rules and regulations to lower the maximum volume and set standards for package labeling to protect users.
  • Maintenance and Self-Fitting: Users of hearing aids need to understand the importance of proper maintenance. Regular cleaning and care help maintain the devices' performance and prevent issues related to dirt, debris, or moisture. Additionally, users may need to perform self-fitting adjustments to ensure optimal comfort and functionality.
  • Professional Guidance: While hearing aids can be beneficial, seeking professional guidance from hearing healthcare professionals is crucial. Audiologists play a significant role in supporting those who choose hearing aids, offering counseling on appropriate care, use, and potential limitations of these devices.
  • Hearing Health Importance: Prioritizing hearing health is essential for overall well-being. As hearing aids become more accessible through OTC options, it is predicted that overall health and quality of life will improve for individuals with hearing loss. However, it is still recommended to undergo a hearing test to confirm the type of hearing loss and determine if OTC hearing aids are suitable.
  • Cost Considerations: While Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids may offer cost savings initially, it is important to consider the benefits of seeking treatment through a licensed audiologist. Audiologists bring a wealth of expertise and personalized care to individuals with complex hearing needs. Here are some key points to elaborate on:
  • Comprehensive Evaluations: Audiologists conduct comprehensive evaluations to assess the type and severity of hearing loss. They consider various factors such as medical history, lifestyle, and communication needs. This thorough evaluation helps determine the most appropriate course of action for each individual.
  • Tailor-Fit Recommendations: Audiologists have the knowledge and experience to recommend the most suitable hearing aid options based on the specific requirements of the individual. They consider factors like hearing loss severity, speech understanding difficulties, and personal preferences to ensure optimal hearing aid selection.
  • Professional Fitting and Programming: Licensed audiologists are proficient in fitting and programming hearing aids to ensure optimal performance and user comfort. They have access to advanced technology and diagnostic tools that enable precise customization of the hearing aids to a person's unique hearing needs.
  • Ongoing Support and Adjustments: Hearing aids may require adjustments and fine-tuning over time. Audiologists provide ongoing support to address any concerns, make necessary programming changes, and help individuals adapt to their new devices. This ongoing relationship ensures the best possible outcomes for individuals with complex hearing needs.
  • Expertise in Complex Cases: Audiologists are trained to handle complex hearing cases, including individuals with severe hearing loss, tinnitus, or other underlying medical conditions impacting hearing. Their expertise allows them to provide specialized care and recommend appropriate interventions beyond the scope of OTC options.
  • Counseling and Rehabilitation: Audiologists offer counseling and rehabilitation services to help individuals adjust to their hearing aids and maximize their benefit. They can provide guidance on communication strategies, managing expectations, and coping with the emotional aspects of hearing loss.

In conclusion, the safe use and maintenance of OTC hearing aids are essential to ensure their effectiveness, user safety, and overall hearing health. While OTC options offer increased accessibility, it is crucial to combine self-care and professional guidance for optimal outcomes. Regular monitoring, proper maintenance, and seeking professional advice when needed can help individuals make the most of their hearing aids.