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Cleaning and Disinfecting Hearing Aids and Earmolds

A. U. Bankaitis, PhD, FAAA

September 19, 2005


Question

Please tell me the best way to clean and disinfect hearing aids? And, what can you tell me about the transmission of disease via hearing aids? Thanks.

Answer

Recent research related to hearing aid hygiene has shed new light on how patients need to properly clean their hearing aids and/or earmolds. A wide range of bacteria and fungi have been found to grow on hearing aid surfaces. Some of the germs are consistent with what is normally found in the ear but many of the recovered germs are not and are considered unhygienic. Because the ear is a dark, warm, moist place and hearing aids are worn in the ear, bacteria and other germs can easily grow on hearing aid surfaces. Since some of these bacteria or germs are not part of your ear's normal environment, they can potentially irritate the lining of your ear canal, and cause itching, redness, swelling, pain, or result in ear odor.

Because these devices are worn in your ear, it is very important to make sure that your hearing aids or earmolds are cleaned and disinfected properly as follows:

  1. wipe hearing aid or earmold surfaces with a tissue
  2. disinfect the hearing aid or earmold surface with a non-alcohol based disinfectant towelette
In addition, hearing aids or earmolds should not be casually placed in purses, pockets, countertops, etc. After use, hearing aids and earmolds should be properly cleaned and disinfected, and then stored in an appropriate case for later use.

Simply wiping the hearing aid with a cloth or tissue is not enough to get rid of the bacteria or germs. In addition, your hearing aids or earmolds are made from special materials that require special cleaning. Alcohol pads should not be used to clean hearing aid or earmold surfaces as it will ruin surfaces relatively quickly. Your audiologists can provide you with non-alcohol products that are designed to disinfect hearing aid surfaces.

Remember: your hearing aids or earmolds will become contaminated with bacteria and other germs. Just like dentures and contacts, it is important to use an appropriate hygiene routine to clean and disinfect hearing aids and earmolds.

A.U. Bankaitis, Ph.D., FAAA
VP of Business Development
Oaktree Products, Inc.
716-J Crown Industrial Court
Chesterfield, MO 63005
636.530.1664
636.530.6158 (fax)


a u bankaitis

A. U. Bankaitis, PhD, FAAA

Vice President, Oaktree Products, Inc.

A.U. Bankaitis, PhD is Vice President of Oaktree Products, Inc of St. Louis, MO, a multi-line distributor of audiology and hearing health care products. Dr. Bankaitis earned her doctorate from the University of Cincinnati in 1995 where her funded research investigated the effects of varying degrees of HIV on the auditory system. This research naturally led to the area of infection control. Dr. Bankaitis is considered one of the leading experts in this area as it pertains to the hearing industry, authoring numerous infection control publications including the popular text book Infection Control in the Audiology Clinic.  none