After caring for nearly 25,000 patients over 35 years, we’ve seen just about everything at Associated Audiologists. People drop their hearing aids in the toilet, down the sink, or they jump in a lake with them on.
No matter what the case, the result can be lost or damaged hearing aids, leaving the wearer without their “ears,” often when they need them most!
Here are some of the most common mishaps we’ve seen, and potential solutions.
1. During the pandemic, it’s been important to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But, wearing a mask can present a problem for someone who wears behind-the-ear hearing aids. We’ve seen several cases where people’s hearing aids have flipped off their ears when they removed the elastic ear loops on their mask. Many notice it immediately and find their hearing aids, but some haven’t.
Solution: You can’t do without your mask OR your hearing aids right now, but there is a simple solution. Take a paper clip and open it, then attach each end of the mask ear loops to the paper clip behind your head. This keeps the ear loops off your ears, and prevents your hearing aids from popping off when removing your mask. It’s a quick and easy fix. There are also masks that tie or attach behind your head, rather than your ears.
2. This may sound far-fetched, no pun intended, but we often see patients whose dogs, and sometimes cats, either chew on their hearing aids, or eat them.
If you see your pet chewing on your hearing aids, retrieve them immediately and assess the damage. If they aren’t damaged, clean them with a sanitizing wipe and see if they work. If your pet has eaten your hearing aids, including the batteries, contact your vet immediately. Batteries can have a toxic effect on the digestive system, and your vet may want you to bring your pet in for an examination. The same is true with small children. If a child swallows a hearing aid battery, take the child to the emergency room immediately.
Solution: To avoid this situation, always keep your hearing aids in a safe place, up high so that pets and children can’t reach them. And, after you take them out, place them in a case or dehumidifying device for added protection. If a child or pet ingests a hearing aid battery, call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 800-498-8666.
3. If you take your hearing aids off in the bathroom, you risk that they might fall in the sink or toilet. Most hearing aid wearers know that hearing aids and water DON’T mix. They’re tiny electronic devices, and getting them wet isn’t a good idea. Still, we see lots of people who put their hearing aids on and take them off in the bathroom. That results in hearing aids falling down the drain or, or worse yet, the toilet.
Solution: If you see that your hearing aids have fallen in a clean sink and it’s not full of water, pick them up and clean them off with a sanitizing wipe. If they haven’t gotten wet, they may be fine. If your hearing aids have gone down the sink drain and you fish them out, they may require a visit to the audiologist to be certain everything is still connected and is working, and if your hearing aids get completely doused, or worse yet, flushed down the toilet, you may have to make a claim against your hearing aid loss and damage policy or check with your home owner’s insurance. Always dispose of the battery if your hearing aids have gotten wet. You can put them in a bag with rice, or use a desiccant dryer.
4. You shower, jump in the pool or the lake with your hearing aids on. This is a very similar scenario to the one above. Water and hearing aids aren’t a good combination.
Solution: If you do get in the shower with them on or go for a swim, remove your hearing aids as soon as you notice you have them on and dry them carefully. Open the battery doors and dispose of the batteries and let them dry overnight. The next day, try your hearing aids with new batteries. If they don’t work, call your audiologist for an appointment. There are personal hearing aid drying systems available from your audiologist that might also be recommended, especially if you are frequently around water or you have concerns of moisture and perspiration affecting hearing aid performance and function.
5. If you’re not sure where you left your hearing aids—in the car, hotel room, or coat—you’re not alone. People often misplace their hearing aids. Sometimes they get lucky and find them, and sometimes not. The latest hearing aids with Bluetooth have a smartphone app that may help you locate them.
Solution: To avoid misplacing your hearing aids, always take them off and store them in the same spot. And don’t put your hearing aids in a paper towel or napkin or leave them in a pocket. We’ve seen lots of hearing aids that have gone through the laundry because someone placed them in a pocket, and forgot they were there. Again, they won’t likely survive the laundry. And hearing aids left in a napkin or paper towel often get taken out with the trash.
As mentioned, many of the latest Bluetooth enabled hearing aids have a “find my hearing aid” feature integrated into their smartphone app. That helps if you think you’ve just misplaced them.
But for many patients, the best thing to do is understand loss and damage coverage or your home owner’s policy so that you’ll be able to replace your hearing aids if they are lost or damaged beyond repair. Though there is a minimum deductible that varies with the policy purchased, it’s a small amount compared to the cost of new devices.
Associated Audiologists also offers convenient ways to get your hearing aids repaired, including Urgent Ear, Curbside Care, and Drop Box services. With Urgent Ear, you can call the clinic nearest you to find an appointment for the best time to drop your hearing aids off for repairs. In most cases, we can make same-day repairs. Our curbside care is also available by appointment for a quick repair, where a member of our staff will meet you at your car to pick the hearing aids up, and will return them to you. And our secure drop boxes are available outside each clinic if you need to bring your hearing aids by before or after office hours, as long as the building is unlocked.