When the cold and flu season approaches, most people will grimace at the thought of catching a bug that can take weeks to completely shake off. Quite often cold and flu sufferers can be left with ear infections, and in some severe cases medication will be needed to clear the infection up. However, this can be especially troublesome for hearing aid wearers.
Ear infections and hearing aids
Swelling in the ear due to an ear infection can prevent your hearing aid from fitting properly. The infection can also affect your hearing quality and temporarily change the acoustics of your ear. This can last for a few days while the infection is present, and can make certain types of hearing aids quite uncomfortable to wear.
So what do you do if you wear a hearing aid and you get an ear infection?
While you are carrying the infection, let your ears get as much air circulating around them as you can by not covering them up with earmuffs or a scarf. Remove your hearing aids as often as you can to enable your ears to breath, especially if you wear an in-the-ear style of hearing aid that can prevent air from reaching your eardrums. Keep your ears as dry as possible – resist the urge to syringe your ears or try to wash any infection out. If you think your ear infection is getting worse, or it has not eased after four or five days, then consult your doctor. You cannot treat a viral infection with antibiotics, but if your ear infection is bacterial, then your doctor can prescribe antibiotics or eardrops to help clear the infection up.
It is very important that you keep up a good hygiene regime and thoroughly clean your hearing aids frequently for the duration of the ear infection. It is quite easy for bacteria to live on your hearing aids, so if you are careful about treating your ear infection and take care of your ears, but fail to keep your hearing aids scrupulously clean, you may risk re-infecting your ears with bacteria.
Treat your hearing aid as if it is an extension of your own ear. All parts of your aid must be clean and well maintained from the inside out. You want to protect your own ears from dirt and damage, so by treating your aid with the same care will keep it working at its optimal level.
When you are issued with your hearing aid, your hearing aid dispenser will provide you with a soft cleaning cloth or small brush, and will show you how to clean your hearing aid properly, and explain the importance of keeping the hearing aid clean. If you are unsure about any aspect of the cleaning and maintenance of your hearing aid, do not be afraid to ask questions, or go through the instructions again until you are happy you can maintain your hearing device yourself.
Not keeping up with your cleaning regime can lead to a build up of earwax production that can interfere with interpretation of sound to the middle ear. There is also a higher risk of ear infections, so you can see the benefits of regular cleaning and maintenance of your hearing aids.
If you have more than one style of hearing aid, and regularly switch between the two, please make sure you handle your aids with care, and if one of your devices will not be used for a while, then you can conserve power by turning off your aids and even remove the battery. Storing your hearing aids correctly in a secure, dry place will also help to keep your aids in good condition. Try to avoid storing your hearing aids in damp or hot conditions, such as your bathroom for example, and replace batteries frequently so you will know your hearing aid will be ready to go when you need it.
Take extra care when exposing your hearing aids to moisture that could cause the system to seize up. You will be surprised how often you expose your hearing aids to moisture and substances that can have a negative effect on them – showers, bathing, swimming, washing your hair, spraying your face with water, bug sprays or sun block, applying hair spray, and sweat from exercise can all have a corrosive effect on your hearing aid.
Speak with one of our friendly staff at Hidden Hearing if you have any concerns with your hearing system, or if you would like some sound advice about the care and maintenance of your hearing device.