There is an old stigma about hearing aids that is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Older adults are recognizing the benefit of early hearing loss treatment, leading to younger adults seeking treatment. In fact, researchers now link hearing loss with more falls, increased cognitive decline and even an increased risk of dementia, therefore early treatment is more important than ever.
What hearing aid is right for you?
With more adults wearing hearing aids, the market is changing to address more diverse and active lifestyles. Understanding your lifestyle and regular activities will be a vital step in picking the style on your new hearing aids.
First, there are different styles of hearing aids. The two main types to look at are behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids and in the ear (ITE) devices. These are broad categories that can be broken down even further by size and function.
Briefly, BTE hearing aids rest primarily behind the ear, as the name implies. The technology on the back of the ear has the microphone and amplifier and is transferred into a dome in the ear canal by a small wire. ITE hearing aids sit entirely inside the ear.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both that will likely be exaggerated by your daily activity level, so let’s look at some common elements to consider with an active lifestyle.
Water- The vast majority of hearing aids are water-resistant but some brands are starting to release waterproof devices. First, consider that there are varying degrees to which you might need protection from water. For example, swimming versus boating or maybe hiking and running with the potential for rain. All of these examples require a different level of protection.
The Ingress Protection, or IP, is a measurement used to describe how well a hearing device can keep debris and water out of the hearing aid. An IP67 or IP68 rated device will serve you well in rain and likely can even be dropped into water quickly and retrieved without issue. For full waterproof options for swimming, speak to your audiologist about your options.
Humidity- Another water aspect you may not think about at first is humidity, both in the air but also in the ear, in the form of sweat. The IP ratings described above are a useful tool for this however there are a couple other considerations. If you are a runner or workout, a BTE hearing aid may be a better option to reduce the humidity exposure from sweat in the ear. Furthermore, how you care for the devices will be vital to lengthen their lifespan. This is the reason why ongoing professional cleaning and dehumidifying is crucial for maintaining sound clarity. We’ll go more into that care below.
Wind- If you are outdoors often or enjoy windy activities such as running or boating, wind sound may be a key factor for you. Digital hearing aids often have settings that can reduce background noise. Also, certain styles may protect from wind sound better than others. This will be important to discuss with your hearing health provider.
Bluetooth- Many adults who run or workout, enjoy doing these activities with music. Digital hearing aids have the option of including Bluetooth capabilities, allowing the devices to connect to other Bluetooth compatible devices such as cell phones or tablets.
How to keep your hearing aids clean
Daily care and maintenance is an important part of hearing aids ownership. There is dry and wet ear wax and both can be a problem for hearing aids. ITE hearing aids tend to collect more debris throughout the day and will need daily care to keep that debris out of the microphone and other sensitive pieces of the device. You can use a small brush or pick to remove the ear wax that has collected or a soft cloth to wipe the device clean. Only use tools provided by your hearing health provider.
Using a dehumidifier is a good idea if you lead an active lifestyle or live in a humid environment. There are small at home kits you can place your hearing aids in overnight to dehumidify them. Remember, daily care of your hearing aids will increase their lifespan.
There are many things to consider when getting new hearing aids, especially if you lead an active lifestyle. Make an appointment with our team at Mt. Hood Hearing today to discuss your options!