How often should the tubing of your behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid be changed? When should the domes of your receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid be replaced? On average, hearing aid tubing should be replaced every four to six months. Domes should be replaced every 2-3 months. Wax traps should be changed every 2-4 weeks.
So you just got new hearing aids but you might need to know when to perform the needed maintenance on them such as changing domes, wax traps or tubing. Your hearing care professional probably fit the hearing aids on you and programmed them to sound just right for you. Then he or she probably gave you a lot of information about the hearing aids.
All that information that the audiologist gives you is a lot to take in. You may have been shown how to insert the hearing aids, change the batteries, and clean the hearing aids. But all this new information can be quite overwhelming and it is easy to forget every detail of care and maintenance of the hearing aids.
Many new hearing aid users understand that proper care and maintenance of their hearing aids is an important part of caring for their new investment. But it can be a challenge to remember all the details of caring for a new hearing aid.
Different styles of hearing aids require different methods of care. BTE hearing aids have tubes that should be changed when they become hard and brittle. RIC hearing aids often have domes that need to be replaced when they become old and worn. Wax traps may be present on various styles of hearing aids. These may need to be changed more or less often, depending on a variety of factors. Continue reading to learn more about care and maintenance for your specific style hearing aid.
Knowing When To Change Your Hearing Aid Tubing
What is hearing aid tubing?
Tubing is the clear or opaque section that connects a behind-the-ear hearing aid to the earmold. Hearing aid tubing comes in various thicknesses and should be soft and flexible. A soft and flexible tube allows for optimum sound quality and comfort on the ear.
When should tubing be changed?
Over time, the hearing aid tubing can become brittle and hard and may even crack. Additionally, wax and debris may collect in the tubing and earmold. This can greatly affect the sound quality of the hearing aid and the comfort of the hearing aid on the ear. Earmolds should be re-tubed every four to six months in order for the hearing aids to continue working at optimum performance.
How do I re-tube my earmold?
You can bring your earmolds to your audiologist or hearing care professional to have them re-tubed. You can also ask your audiologist to show you how to re-tube your earmold yourself.
To re-tube your earmold, follow the instructions below. You will need new tubing and a small pair of scissors.
- Gently pull the old tubing from the earmold. Do not throw the old tubing away as it can be a guide for measuring the length of the new tubing later.
- Insert the tapered end of the new tubing into the earmold. Thread it through the earmold until it comes out the other end.
- Pull the tubing until the bend reaches the earmold.
- Cut the tapered tubing as close as possible to the end of the earmold. If a small portion of the tubing is sticking out, it could cause your ear to become sore.
- Use the old tubing that you saved and line it up with the newly threaded tubing. Cut the end to the same length.
- Push the end of the tubing onto the plastic earhook of your hearing aid and turn it in the correct direction to comfortably sit in your ear.
Knowing When To Change Your Hearing Aid Dome
What is a dome?
Domes are pre-sized, disposable earpieces that are placed on the hearing aid speaker or thin tube. Domes are made of plastic and can come in different shapes and sizes. A proper fitting dome can make a big difference in comfort and sound quality when wearing the hearing aids.
What is the difference between an open-style dome, a closed-style dome, and a power dome?
An open-style dome has small holes, which allows for sound to pass through. This helps people with certain types of hearing loss from experiencing what is called “the occlusion effect.” The occlusion effect can give some people the sensation of hollow or booming sounds, especially from their own voice. This experience is similar to putting your fingers in your ears and listening to yourself talk. Open domes may be the right choice for some people as they can allow certain pitches to enter the ear canal without amplification, thus making the sound seem more natural.
A closed-style dome does not have any holes in it. It is meant to reduce natural sounds so that it can more aggressively boost the sound level through the hearing aid. It can also boost low-pitched sounds for the person wearing the hearing aids. Closed-style domes are often selected for patients with more severe hearing losses.
A power dome is the most occlusive type of dome and is often used for people with more significant hearing losses. They are often used to occlude the ear for more power and to reduce feedback.
When should I replace the domes?
Hearing aid domes, whether open or closed, should be changed every few months. Use this tool to make changing them easier. Some hearing care professionals may recommend dome changes every 1-2 months, while others may recommend a slightly longer period of time. Either way, domes need to be changed regularly in order for sound quality to remain clear.
All styles of domes, whether open, closed, or power, can be cleaned in between changes with a small brush or wax pick provided by your hearing care professional. Just use the brush regularly to remove wax and debris from the end of the hearing aid.
To learn more about how to clean and change domes, see The Complete Guide to Cleaning a Hearing Aid Dome.
Knowing When To Change Your Hearing Aid Wax Traps
What is a wax trap?
Wax traps (also called wax guards or wax filters) are small plastic pieces that are attached to the hearing aid. The purpose of the wax traps is to prevent wax, debris, and moisture from getting into the receiver (or speaker) of your hearing aid. This is very important. If wax, debris, or moisture does get into the receiver, it could affect sound quality or cause the hearing aid to malfunction.
How often should I change my wax traps?
It is difficult for an audiologist to advise a patient how often to change their wax traps. This is because each patient is different. Some people need to change the wax traps almost every month. Other people may not need to change their wax traps for several months. It all depends on the amount of wax in the ear canal. Some patients get a lot of earwax while others do not. On average, people need to change their wax traps every 2-4 weeks.
How will I know when the wax traps need to be changed?
If your hearing aid is dead despite using a new battery, or if your hearing aid sounds weak even though your volume is turned up, it might be time to change your wax guard. Take a good look at the wax trap on your hearing aid (you may need to remove the plastic dome on your hearing aid first). See if you can tell if the wax trap is plugged up with wax. Most wax traps have several holes in the bottom that can be seen with good vision. If the holes in the wax trap are blocked, then you know it is time to change the wax trap.
How do I change the wax trap?
All hearing aid manufacturers have different designs of wax traps. Most wax traps have a stick or handle with a new replacement wax trap on it. The other side has a point on it that is used to take the old wax trap out. When the point is inserted into the old wax trap, it will connect. When you pull it out of the hearing aid, the old wax trap should be attached to it. You can then insert the new wax trap into the hearing aid.
To learn more about how to change wax traps, see the Illustrated Guide to ALL Hearing Aid Wax Traps.
Hearing aids are an investment. Proper care and maintenance of the hearing aid and all its parts are important so as to maintain optimum performance. Hearing aid fitting appointments are often overwhelming. You are not only getting used to a new way of hearing but you are also given an abundance of information. It can be difficult to remember all the important aspects of hearing aid care. This article discussed when to replace tubing, domes, and wax traps and discussed specific tips regarding how to change these parts. For more information on how to replace these parts, click the links in the article.