only a few years ago there was little one could
do about moisture-related problems in hearing instruments
in a desiccant kit or add gain if the instrument
was suspected of being damaged. However, a number
of hearing instrument clearing devices in the last
few years have been developed to help solve moisture
problems, including the vacuum-generating device
from Best Computes, MedRx and Starkey.
information suggests that a hearing instrument can
be dampened from 0-8 dB at 3000 Hz within 30 days of
the fitting by moisture and debris," says Bill
Burden, founder of Best Computes, manufacturer of
cleaning system for dispensers and the Sentinel
drying system designed for everyday (at-home) patient
use. "For many years, a number of dispensers have
been using vacuums that they have 'jury-rigged' in
to remove debris (ear wax) from hearing instruments.
Dispensing professionals also use canned air and tools
to clean volume controls and other parts of the aid.
However, the moisture problem cannot be effectively
addressed this way."
technology developed by Best Computes features a proprietary
canister on the top of the device designed to "bleed"
air over the hearing instruments while a vacuum exerts
pressure. Alterative designs are offered on competitive
units. A meter on the face of some of these instruments
indicates the vacuum pressure-level, which Burden says
can be helpful for ensuring that the vacuum is working
unobstructed and drawing optimal pressure.
the Mark V cleaning device designed for use in dispensing
offices, the hearing instrument microphone, receiver
and vents are vacuumed using the appliance's milled
needle probe, then the instrument is place in the
vacuum chamber which runs for five minutes, shutting
off automatically. The probe-needle is then reinserted
into the microphone and receiver to remove the remainder
of the moisture and debris.
believes that the marketing potential for these types
of devices is large: "debris management is done extremely
well by some hearing care professionals, and not at
all by others. When the dispenser starts talking about
making a client's existing equipment sound better,
people who put their hearing instruments in the drawer
start paying attention, and they generally are not
adverse to coming into the office and paying a small
fee to see if the cleaning system can enhance their
hearing performance. Whether the professional bills
for the service or not, it is a very important component
for a dispensing office. However, if the service is
billed for, like anything else, this gives it a validity
hearing instrument failures are not any-one's fault,
and they occur regardless of climatic conditions. The
problems are the product of tiny, complex devices living
in a very electronics hostile environment, the human
we could start pulling the hearing instruments that
are in drawers due to moisture problems and placing
them back on people, as well as reducing repairs and
increasing the service life of the instruments: I believe
we could radically improve customer satisfaction.