Love Sports? 4 Tips to Protect Your Hearing Aid
What do David Smith, Terrence Parkin, and Marie Roethlisberger have in common?
Aside from being Olympic medalists, these fantastic athletes all suffered from hearing loss. Smith uses lip-reading to communicate with his volleyball team. Parkin relies on strobe light signals to know when to swim. And Marie Roethlisberger choreographs her routines to heavy bass music to feel floor vibrations.
Not one of these champions let their hearing aids slow them down or keep them from participating in their favorite sports—and neither should you. Of course, if you have a hearing aid, you should take some extra precautions to ensure it stays in pristine condition. Whether you run, swim, bike, or swing a bat, the following tips can protect your hearing aid and your ear.
1. Wear an Absorbent Headband
Few things feel more exhilarating than a solid workout session playing your favorite sport. Your heart rate increases, your endorphins release, and your overall energy levels spike (despite temporary exhaustion after a good game).
But most good workouts also result in a lot of sweat. While sweat keeps the rest of your body cool, the heat and moisture corrode the battery inside your device. The battery, in turn, releases chemicals that damage the delicate electronics in your hearing aid.
If each of your training sessions leaves you drenched, wear a headband that can effectively absorb the moisture. Some headbands will fit snugly over your hearing aid, providing further protection from dust and grime.
2. Invest in a Dehumidifier
Although a comfortable headband can absorb a great deal of sweat during practice, some sports might not allow you to wear a headband during big games or competitions. In these cases, you’ll need to find a way to dry your hearing aid as soon as you’ve scored the last point or caught the last fly ball.
A hearing aid dehumidifier or dryer can eliminate any moisture that has built up during the day, so your device feels clean, fresh, and new when you put it in the following morning. Many drying devices are portable and battery powered, so you can keep it in your locker and dry your hearing aid at a moment’s notice.
3. Buy Additional Tubing
If you wear a behind-the-ear hearing aid, your device will come with a tube that connects the inner ear piece to the outer shell. You can remove this tubing for daily cleaning with soapy water, and then you can use a blower or dryer to force out any water still in the tube.
But when you play sports regularly, you may find that your BTE tube quickly becomes stained and dirty, despite frequent cleanings. As sweat, dust, and grime build up inside the tube, sounds may seem distorted or weak, or you might not hear any sound at all.
To minimize extra trips to the audiologist without sacrificing your hearing, purchase additional replacement tubing for your hearing aid and swap it out as necessary.
4. Look for a Soft Earmold
Earmolds come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials to suit your ear and your lifestyle. These earmolds need to fit perfectly to ensure your comfort, and they need to be sturdy enough to withstand the minor bumps and knocks they may receive throughout the day.
However, if you play a contact sport, you should carefully consider a mold made from a softer, more pliable material, such as silicone. Should you suffer from a particularly rough tackle or blow from a ball, you don’t want your device to shatter and cut your ear. A softer mold offers more cushion against trauma while bending (rather than breaking) under impact.
Tell Us About Your Favorite Sport
When you follow the above tips, you won’t have to worry about bacteria buildup or ear injuries. However, you should keep in mind that some sports will require additional adjustments and equipment to accommodate your hearing aid.
No matter what sport you play, tell your audiologist how you like to stay active. He or she can then recommend a waterproof or water-resistant device that can withstand your regular activities. Or, your audiologist may suggest using antimicrobial products, hearing aid blowers (or puffers), or hearing aid clips to extend your device’s lifespan.