My Hearing Aids Got Wet, what's the best way to bring it back to life?

A: Even if a wet hearing aid seems dead, there's a good chance it can be resuscitated. Just make sure you act fast--the longer the water sits inside, the greater the likelihood it will destroy the hearing aid for good-this is when corrosion sets in.

This is a Do-It-Yourself moment. While consumers are conditioned to send back broken merchandise, your hearing aid's warranty does not cover water damage. And you may not have much luck pulling a fast one on your hearing aid company--most of today's hearing aids warranty is invalid if you get it wet.

The first step: Immediately cut the power by removing the battery. I know it's tempting, but resist the urge to power up your hearing aid to see if it works--just turning it on can short out the circuits.

With the battery safely set aside, you now have one goal--dry your hearing aid, and dry it fast. If you let the moisture evaporate naturally, the chance of corrosion damaging the hearing aid's innards increases. Instead, blow or suck the water out. But don't use a hair dryer--its heat can fry your hearing aid's insides. Instead, opt for a can of compressed air, an air compressor set to a low psi or a vacuum cleaner (a wet/dry Shop-Vac would be perfect). The idea is to use air to push or pull moisture out through the same channels it entered.

Finally, use a desiccant to remove any leftover moisture. The most convenient choice is uncooked rice. Just leave the hearing aid (and its disconnected battery) submerged in a bowl of grains overnight. If you're worried about rice dust getting inside your hearing aid, you can instead use the packets of silica gel that often come stuffed in the pockets of new clothes. But acting fast is far more important than avoiding a little dust, so don't waste time shopping if you don't already have a drawer full of silica gel.

The most important thing to remember is to avoid heat. That means no hair dryers, ovens, microwaves or extended periods in direct sunlight. While heat will certainly evaporate the moisture, it could also warp components and melt adhesives. Those fragile glues are also why you'll want to avoid dunking the phone in rubbing alcohol. Alcohol is a solvent and can dissolve the internal adhesives. (If you drop your hearing aid in the toilet, it's okay to wipe the outside with alcohol to disinfect it.)

One final, perhaps surprising, note: If your hearing aid gets soaked in salt water, you should probably flush the whole thing in fresh water before it dries. When salt water evaporates, it leaves crystals that can damage a hearing aid's fragile components. Just be sure to remove the battery before flooding the device.

PS this process can also be used for cell phones.

 

Mentioned before

1.  Audiologists Choice Desiccant.  This is a small jar of silica (desiccating) crystals in a jar. At night, after removing the battery, place the hearing aid down in the jar. During the night, the moisture in the hearing aid will be absorbed by crystals. The silica crystals can be recycled by oven heating when they become moist (indicated by change in color), so the kit has a long life.

2.  Dry & Store, is an electrical appliance that uses heat, moving air, as well as a desiccating substance to remove moisture from a hearing aid (as well as from any cerumen that may have infiltrated the sound bore). The unit will accommodate two hearing aids (any type). Once turned on, it is programmed for an eight hour cycle, the first eight minutes of which a germicidal lamp helps kill off bacteria, molds or fungi that may be growing on the surface of the hearing aid shell or earmold. With this unit, it is best not to remove the battery (but keeping the battery compartment open) since the removal of moisture from the battery may slightly extend its life span. A number of anecdotal reports suggest that that the regular use of this device can help ensure the hearing aid's optimal performance over the long run.

3.  A jar of uncooked rice.   The uncooked rice acts as a desiccant - removes moisture from the hearing aid.