Lindfield Audiology now selling Ear Gear
Ear Gear is a spandex sleeve that slips over your hearing instrument to protect it from the elements. The sleeve is available on its own or attached to a safety cord and clip to prevent the hearing instrument from getting lost if it falls off your ear. Ear Gear has barely been on my radar in the few years since I opened my clinic. However, for several reasons, I have decided to make Ear Gear available to all my clients.
Hearing instruments are easy to lose at the best of times
With hearing aids becoming smaller, lighter, and more discreet all the time, the possibility of losing one of these sophisticated and expensive items is ever-present. Therefore, most audiologists including myself will recommend to our clients that they have their hearing instruments insured. For hearing aid users, this concern is mitigated somewhat for the first 12 months by a one-off courtesy replacement scheme that most manufacturers offer.
For hearing implant recipients, there is no such replacement scheme, and if a Cochlear sound processor is lost before the client has a chance to insure it, the client is responsible for replacing the processor at full price. This exact scenario happened to one of my cochlear implant clients this year, and Ear Gear would have saved a lot of heartache.
COVID-19 has seen a spike in the loss of hearing instruments
Every new hearing aid wearer goes through an awkward period of learning how to physically manage their hearing aids by feel, how to keep them on while adjusting glasses, etc. COVID-19 has added the regular use of masks to this equation. Most mask designs use a loop of elastic behind the ear, where the main component of a Behind-The-Ear hearing aid sits.
Personally, I have seen an enormous increase in the number of lost hearing aids during the COVID-19 period, and I think the number of emails I have received from hearing aid manufacturers promoting hacks about how to wear hearing aids with masks to prevent loss, probably attests to this as well.
Regardless of water resistance ratings, life takes its toll on hearing aids
The IP (Ingress Protection) ratings of hearing aids are improving all the time. Many current hearing aid models have IP ratings of 68, meaning they are resistant to dust, dirt, and sand, and should still work after being immersed in 1.5 m of water for 30 minutes. Hearing aids are not waterproof, however, and corrosion from moisture build-up is one of the biggest limiting factors in the life of a hearing aid.
Even when clients do their best to keep their hearing aids dry and dust-free, we tend to see a higher rate of service and repair episodes for clients who perspire a lot (or have daily activities that cause them to) or are otherwise exposed to the elements daily through outdoor activities or occupations. The inconvenience of having to be without one’s hearing aids for up to 2 weeks while they are being serviced should be reason enough to consider Ear Gear.
The main reason I never used to recommend Ear Gear was that I thought it was unnecessary – until I had a client lose a valuable and uninsured hearing instrument that Ear Gear most likely would have saved. Then, after looking at the added protective benefits of this product, I came to the view that if something so inexpensive could help to safeguard a client’s investment and prolong its lifespan, why wouldn’t I recommend it?