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It's finally here, the well-earned summer vacation! Before leaving, everything must be prepared and packed. As somebody who uses a hearing system, you need to pay particular attention to a couple of things. The most important question is: Have I got all of the accessories I need?

It's finally here, the well-earned summer vacation!

If you use hearing aids, there are a couple of things to consider before jetting off on vacation. There are also several things to think about at the resort to prevent your hearing aid from being damaged and to keep your hearing at its best.
The next challenge is the journey itself. It all starts with security at the airport. Can I keep my hearing aid in when going through the body scanner? Going on a plane even brings its own challenges: During the flight, there is a noise level of around 85 dB in the cabin. That is as loud as lawn mower or a really busy street. Additionally, the pilot and crew's announcements are often unclear. This can easily become stressful.

However, the greatest enemies for any hearing aid during a vacation are dust and water. And everyone loves spending time where both of these are in abundance: sandy beaches. So with the right preparation and a couple of tricks, you can certainly avoid any damages to these valuable, high-tech devices.

Take control before swimming

Hearing aids are at the greatest risk of damage on a beach - especially when it's windy: Sand and dust can clog them up and cause damage. Water is even worse. So, before swimming: Always remove hearing aids! To help you to remember, here is a little trick: Get into the habit of putting a hand over your ear as soon as you step into water. Important: Hearing aids should always be kept in their storage box. This is the only place they are truly safe.

Checklist for a vacation with hearing aids

  • Spare batteries
  • or rechargeable battery unit with adapter
  • Spare filters
  • Case
  • Dry box and drying capsules
  • Cleansing kit (spray, cloths, tablets, air puffer)
  • Optional hearing protection plugs (e.g. for sleeping, swimming, flying)
  • Remote control (with spare batteries)
  • Mobile phone compatible with the hearing aid
  • Light and vibration alarm (e.g. to avoid sleeping in on the day you leave)
  • Recommended before longer trips abroad: Hearing aid check with an audiologist

What happens if the hearing aid still gets wet, despite taking all of the precautions?

Just like any high-tech device, a hearing aid must be protected against moisture. That is easy to say - but for anyone with an active lifestyle, there is always the risk of the device getting damp or even wet. This is particularly relevant when on vacation. It could be a rain shower on a bike ride, a spontaneous swim in the sea or, quite simply: when you forget to remove it before getting in the shower.
 

Emergency measures for when the hearing aid gets wet, despite taking all precautions:

  1. Turn it off immediately
  2. Remove any batteries and dry thoroughly with a cloth
  3. In the event that the hearing aid came into contact with salt water or waste water, first rinse it with clean water
  4. Shake all of the water out of the hearing aid. Important: The battery compartment must stay open
  5. Dry the hearing aid for a couple of hours on a piece of paper (e.g. newspaper) - ideally in a warm, dry place. Important: Keep the battery compartment open. Caution: Do not leave it in the sun!
  6. A special hearing aid dehumidifier would work best, if available.
After this, there is a good chance that the hearing aid will work after re-inserting the batteries. If not, then you have little option but to visit an audiologist or audiometrist. In many cases, it is possible to repair the water damage.

Typical vacation risks for the ears

Diving: Diving places extreme stress on hearing and poses a significant risk. It is important to follow specific rules properly, otherwise there is not only the risk of earache but serious trauma. In particular: Never dive if you have a cold. Do not use cotton buds to clean your ears (they remove the protective earwax). When diving down, concentrate on pressure equalization. Do not use nasal spray before diving! Rinse ears with lukewarm fresh water after diving.
Moisture: Keep ears dry. Repeated swimming throughout the day can leave them permanently wet. When combined with wind and dust, this can lead to inflammation. For this reason: Always dry ears thoroughly e.g. using your finger and a tissue (cotton buds are not advisable). Should any water remain in the ear (dulled sound), shake it out by bending your head over and gently tapping on the temple or jumping. If that does not work, the ear can be dried using a hairdryer.

Flying with hearing aids

The good news: There are no problems associated with hearing aids during airport security checks. You can even keep them in when going through the security gate (body scanner). That said, it is recommended that you turn down the volume as a precaution and let a member of security staff know about your hearing aid. One exception here are cochlea implants, as those wearing them must not go through the body scanner under any circumstances. Hearing aids can be used as normal during the flight.
All airline passengers have to deal with pressure equalization when taking off and landing. If the ears don't naturally adjust, there is the risk of earache and in extreme cases, barotrauma* with ringing in the ears and dizziness. What helps: Yawning, swallowing, chewing gum or the so-called Valsalva maneuver, which is when you hold your nose and then blow air into the closed nose with force - you will notice the change to the pressure in the ears immediately.

*Barotrauma: Trauma (e.g. to the eardrum) due to changes in the ambient pressure.

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