High-Frequency Hearing Loss Bugaboo

Changing the Wax Guard and Other Maintenance Tips

High-Frequency Hearing Loss Bugaboo
In a heartbreaking scene in the movie Beloved, the young Beethoven presses his ear against the grand piano lid, craning to hear the wistful tones of his Moonlight Sonata. Born with a high-frequency hearing loss, I understand only too well his plight.

Yet thanks to modern technology, I hear piano tones better today than I did as a teenager. Along with the privilege of powerful hearing aids comes the responsibility of aid maintenance. Fitted with my first hearing aid in seventh grade, I’ve picked up some best practices over the years:

Change the wax guard

I’m embarrassed to admit that I never once changed the wax guard on my old Resound hearing aids for the simple reason that I was intimidated by the prospect of inserting the tiny basket. (Procrastination is one of my long-lasting faults.) After I recently purchased my Widex Inteo hearing aids, I resolved to do better. I now change the wax guard around the first day of every month. I would recommend setting up a monthly reminder on your calendar. If you find this as intimidating as I did, practice with your audiologist.

Keep extra batteries handy

Although the newest hearing aids give ample warning of dying batteries (mine beep three times in my ear), it is still possible to have a battery conk out away from home. I keep packages of batteries handy in my purse, messenger bag, yoga bag, workout bag, and suitcase (wouldn’t it be great if an iPhone case with a battery pouch were to come out!). If you are new to hearing aids, it’s also a good idea to practice changing the battery at home. I once had a battery go dead as I was waiting outside the office of an executive for an important job interview. In a matter of seconds, I whipped out the spare batteries, slid a new one into the compartment, and reinserted the aid in my ear just as the executive emerged from his office.

As soon as you take off a hearing aid, put it in its case

I learned this lesson the hard way when, not long after my daughter Mena was born, I put my hearing aids on the dresser and lay down on the bed to take a nap with my baby. My son Cal—otherwise known as Curious Cal—grabbed one of the aids with his stubby toddler fingers and promptly crushed the shell. If this lesson were not sufficiently memorable, a few years later I carelessly left one of my hearing aids on my desk, then accidentally crushed it when I moved my computer keyboard with a decisive bang.

Wear your hearing aids

Quite often, I long for the feeling of my ear canal exposed to the air, unobstructed with the hearing aid. The only problem with this feeling of freedom is that I don’t hear very well. People with normal hearing find it tiring when those of us with losses are saying “huh,” “what,” and “pardon?” with every other sentence. Although I treat myself to a break from the aids when I’m writing alone in my office, I make a policy of wearing my aids whenever I’m around another person, including family members.

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Copyright © 2017 Nancy M. Williams. All Rights Reserved.

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