Hearing Aid Accessories
Last updated Nov. 2016
My intent with this page is to highlight some things that can boost your “everyday life” experiences with having to wear a hearing aid–so in addition to the basics, I’ve found some things that may help overcome situations that can become prohibitive with a hearing aid, like exercise, traveling, listening to music, and so on. I will try to include things I have no personal experience with, so please comment if you have any input or suggestions to add here!
I don’t know why, but it wasn’t until my dad got his first hearing aid in 2015 and told me he ordered his batteries in bulk on Amazon that I realized I could totally do that and save some serious cash. I like this 60-pack a lot, and the price is unbeatable. Take a look for your battery size and see if there’s a deal! Also, if you’re getting a new aid, a lot of audiologists will throw in a year’s worth of batteries with the aid purchase. My mom still buys them as stocking stuffers for me. It’s great.
I change my BTE aid battery once a week, usually on Mondays, even though it can last a couple more days than that. I ALWAYS have a backup stash in my purse ever since a horrible incident where I lost all sound in the middle of a French class exercise. I was 24. I cried. I don’t know about you, but my aid’s warning beep occurs about 2 minutes before the battery dies… come on!
Chances are, you’ll need to control the humidity issues regardless of where you live or what you’ve been doing. I recommend a plug-in dessicant like the one below, where your aid can dry out every night in a sanitary fashion. There are a lot of good dessicants out there to do the job, but I’ll just feature what I use to give you an idea:
I also have a secondary dessicant for travel, or to take with me to a pool locker room/beach/etc.:
It’s tiny, it never sets off any flags with TSA, and you can easily “recharge” the beads by baking them in the oven for a little while. I usually forget to put them back in the container after taking them out of the oven and then they suck up all the room humidity and I have to re-do it all over again, but hopefully you’ll be more on top of it…
Now, there have been times where the dessicant just can’t keep up with humidity issues with my hearing aid. Until I had my tubes changed to a better material last year, I frequently could SEE visible water buildup inside my tubes. The first time that the moisture completely blocked my sound, I was in college and thought my aid was broken, until an audiologist twisted off the ear hook and literally used a can of air (like this!) to blow out the tube. Now, I have seen mixed reviews on how “safe” this is, especially blowing through that tube juncture in a BTE aid, but I probably ended up doing this at least 20 times over the past decade. I can’t recommend it as a frequent solution, but it’s saved me in a pinch SEVERAL times. I haven’t had to do it once since I got my new tubes, though. Just FYI!
Exercise & Outdoors
Humidity is probably the #1 everyday enemy of wearing a BTE (behind the ear) hearing aid, so it’s normal to worry about a rainy day or perspiration affecting your aid. The good thing is, more hearing aids nowadays have better moisture-resistant construction, and even when I last had my tubes changed, the material was different so as to prevent less water-blob build-up that my dessicant couldn’t zap.
This “sweatband” is a good option for those worried about sweat interfering with their aid. I ordered mine years ago from Marilyn Electronics, which seems to be defunct now, but it looks like nearly the same product. Admittedly, it’s been a few years since I’ve worn it, but I found that a moisture-wicking sleeve worked well for me when I did outdoor exercise. It’s kind of a pain to slide it on, and it feels a little bulky, but I felt like there was an extra layer of protection to absorb perspiration. Last year I did a lot of running in order to do a 5k, and I did NOT wear the sweat band, but made sure to “wipe down” the aid after.
Sadly, there’s no accessory that makes this one possible, unless hearing aid manufacturers renew efforts to make something waterproof (the Siemens Aquaris was recently discontinued).
That said, there’s still some things you can do to protect your hearing aid even if you can’t wear it in the water. If you’re going to the beach and can’t/don’t want to leave the aid behind until you get there, AT LEAST bring a clean ziploc bag to put your hearing aid in, tuck the bag safely away where it won’t get too hot, and don’t stick your sandy fingers in there to pull it back out. Wait til you’re home and clean.
Ideally, you’ll have a waterproof case like this one. I keep meaning to buy one for freak rainstorms, having to take my aid out at the hairdressers, and pool/beach trips.
Headphones & Audio
I have to admit, for YEARS I have worn over-the-ear headphones when listening to music or computer audio, and because I only wear the one aid, oftentimes I subconsciously lift the side of the headphones to do two things: reduce any feedback noises that may happen, and relieve the discomfort of the aid being pressed against my head.
Now, the newer hearing aids in production do have some Bluetooth capabilities, which is fantastic for usage with smartphones and computers, but sometimes you need actual hardware. When I moved to Germany, those long transatlantic flights back home meant I was seriously uncomfortable trying to watch the seat-back movies with over-ear headphones. Ear buds are obviously a no-go, but then I found this!
Music-Link I bought the monaural/single ear hook since I only wear the one aid, but they make dual hooks as well. The website looks exactly the same as when I bought in 2010, but with PayPal you’ll have one of these babies soon.
Using the telecoil switch, I just wear this looped around the aid and I don’t have to worry about headphones. The drawback is, as with all T-coil use, it cuts out all the other ambient sound. Great for airplane movies, exercising while listening to music or podcasts, except please be careful when running outside! My other main critique is that this doesn’t stay in place really well. I find that I have to fiddle a lot for that sweet spot, and for airplane flights, I even loop it around the aid backwards–as long as the T-coil can pick it up, you’re good.
Bone Conduction Headphones
It was only last year that I noticed bone conduction headphones getting discussed in a mainstream commercial sense: my mom wanted some for walking around the neighborhood without compromising her ability to hear other sounds (a car coming, for example). My only personal experience with them aside from trying hers on are the super-powered ones at the audiologist for those oh-so-exciting beep portions of a hearing test.
The other major upside is that people who wear hearing aids can also wear bone conduction headphones with little interference, since the sound is “heard” through vibrations in the jaw and face bones. DEPENDING on your type of hearing loss, you may or may not need to wear your hearing aid to listen. For example, if your loss is due to ear drum damage, you wouldn’t NEED the aid to listen as bone conduction does not use the ear drum. I have sensorineural hearing loss, so I’d have to wear my aid in addition to the headphones.
Because this is something I haven’t played around with too much, I’m going to let this great article by Everyday Hearing do most of the talking. Based on what I’ve found, I think one day I’d like to try these:
Aftershokz Trekz Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones: My only concern is, with my BTE (behind the ear) hearing aid, the band might displace the aid a little. Let me know if you have tried this type of headphones with your aid!