There are a lot of different things that can damage 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, more than likely you are missing the most common reason for water damage in hearing aids: humidity.
Permanent damage is done by moisture that you can’t see. It’s time to understand more about why humidity is a negative thing for hearing aids.
Despite the fact that the word humidity is very common, what does it actually mean? PBS defines humidity as water molecules in the air. The relative humidity refers to the ratio of water molecules in the air compared to how many the air can actually hold. When you can feel wetness in the air, that means the relative humidity is high.
Humans cool down their body by sweating so that makes us very sensitive to humidity. When you sweat it evaporates into the air, but that doesn’t happen as quickly when the humidity level is high. Electronics are also susceptible to humidity and that is why it has such a detrimental effect on hearing aids.
Why Hearing Aids Have a Problem with Humidity
Strangely enough, electronic devices are not just sensitive to high humidity but low levels as well. When water vapor percentages are high condensation can collect on the intricate mechanisms that make electronics work, and low humidity can lead to brittle core materials.
Hearing aids rely heavily on internal electronics to function. Modern digital hearing aids use a sophisticated signal processing chip to control noise. It’s what is behind elegant features like:
- Noise reduction
- Targeted listening programs
- Digital sound streaming
High humidity causes moisture to accumulate in the hearing aids damaging that chip. It can corrode elements inside the casing and destroy batteries as well. It’s the same as dropping your hearing aid in a pool of water.
How to Get A Handle On Humidity
If you are shopping for hearing aids, look for products that are water-resistant. This feature will give you some protection from humidity and wet weather, but you still can’t swim with them in.
If you live in an area prone to high humidity, think about using a room or house dehumidifier to cut down on water vapor inside. It’s an investment that will help you and your family in many ways and protect other electronic devices like that costly TV you got for Christmas. 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. You will need to take other steps at the same time.
Consider buying a dehumidifier designed especially for hearing aids. There is one out there for every budget. Drying kits rely on silica gel crystals to protect the 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.
Get in the habit of opening the battery compartment every time you store your hearing aids. When you expose the battery and inner elements to air by leaving the door open, condensation can evaporate by itself. Don’t just do this in the summer, do it all year round.
A cool dry place is the ideal for storage. Avoid putting them in the glove compartment, in a hot room or on a table in the sun.
Other Moisture Concerns
Air vapor is not the only moisture that can damage hearing aids. Don’t forget to think about other types of wetness like:
- 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. If you are wearing your hearing aid then it’s a good idea in general. Sweat in your ears can cause problems later.
- Check surfaces before you put your hearing aid down. A glass or coffee cup can leave moisture behind.
Your hearing aids are a valuable asset, so treat them that way. 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.