In-the-Ear hearing instruments
Practical tips on the use and care of in-the-ear instruments
The visible outer ear is only a part of the complex organ that enables us to hear. In fact, the human ear can be divided into three parts : the external, the middle and the inner ear. The actual process of perceiving and interpreting sound takes place in the brain.
The size and shape of the ear canal differs from one person to another, and is virtually as unique as our facial features or fingerprints. Nevertheless, there are certain features in common.
If possible, switch off your instruments before insertion to avoid feedback (a high-pitched, whistling tone) and be sure to put them in the correct ear :
Insert the instrument, canal-end first, into the ear canal. Tug gently on your ear lobe and push the hearing instrument into the correct position. Although this may require a little practice, you will soon become so familiar with the procedure that it will seem like second nature.
If possible, switch off the instruments before removing them to avoid feedback. Remove them over a soft surface (bed, sofa, etc.), taking care not to drop them.
Grasp the handle between your thumb and index finger and pull the instrument upwards out of your ear.
Put your thumb behind your ear lobe (just below the hard cartilage) and gently press your ear upward to push the instrument out of the canal. To help it along, make chewing movements with your jaw. Grasp the protruding instrument and remove it.
There are two reasons - one acoustic, the other anatomical - why a hearing instrument should fit snugly into the ear.
A loosely fitting hearing instrument can cause feedback, an unpleasant, high-pitched whistling sound. This happens when the instrument does not fit snugly and the amplified signal finds a way back to the microphone. For comfortable, interference-free hearing, a close fit in the ear canal is essential.
A hearing instrument that does not fit snugly can work out of position when the wearer is chewing, yawning or simply talking. This is because the shape of the ear canal is influenced by movements of the jaw. You can feel this by putting the tip of your finger into your ear, then slowly opening and closing your mouth.
The ear drum is a highly sensitive membrane and nature has taken various precautions to protect it from damage :
The external part of the ear canal contains sweat and sebaceous glands. The glands produce a waxy substance known as cerumen, or earwax, which traps bacteria and dust. Cerumen is only produced in the outer third of the ear canal and gradually works its way to the entrance, where it can be removed. Never try to clean down inside of the canal yourself. If you have a problem, consult your hearing healthcare professional or physician.
The external part of the ear canal is covered with tiny hairs, which act rather like a curtain to protect the ear drum against dust and dirt. If dust or bacteria do succeed in penetrating the curtain, they are trapped by the cerumen.
The ear drum is further protected by bends in the ear canal. This helps prevent objects accidentally entering the ear and damaging the ear drum.
When you first start wearing a hearing instrument, it often seems like a foreign body, but the feeling disappears after a short familiarization period. All the same, hearing instruments can stimulate the production of cerumen. Some instruments are equipped with a protective cerumen filter to help prevent earwax from entering the instrument. If the outlet of the hearing instrument is blocked by earwax, the volume may be reduced ot even cut-off altogether.
Modern hearing instruments are durable, easy-to-use and reliable. Nevertheless, a few simple precautions will ensure that your instruments continue to give you many years of trouble-free service.
Always make sure your fingers are dry and clean before handling your hearing instrument.
The microphone inlet is only a few tenths of a millimeter wide and can easily become blocked if handled incorrectly.
Remove the instruments from your ears before showering, bathing or swimming. Do not leave them in the bathroom, where they could suffer water damage. Dry any perspiration inside and around the ears regularly.
Dampness and condensation can damage the circuitry in your hearing instruments. We recommend that you leave the battery compartments open over night and use the special drying kit available from your hearing healthcare professional.
Never leave your hearing instruments where they may be affected by extreme heat. Protect them from direct sunlight (at home or in a parked car) and do not leave them near radiators.
Insert and remove your hearing instruments over a soft surface (a bed or sofa).
The fine particles produced by hair spray or make-up can easily block a microphone inlet. Always remove hearing instruments before using personal care products.
When your instruments are not in use, always keep them in the presentation case or special drying box. For transporting the instruments, keep them in their case. Remove the batteries if the instruments will not be used for some time.
Dogs are irritated by the feedback (whistling) sound, and attracted by the owner's scent. Often the result is a chewed-up hearing instrument.
Screwdrivers and oil can be fatal for hearing instruments. Merely touching the electronics or micromechanics can lead to irreparable damage.