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2019-06-18

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What You Need to Know About Flying with Hearing Aids

Flying is stressful enough, but it can be particularly nerve-wracking for those travelling with hearing loss. Here are some tips on how you can keep yourself and your hearing aids safe during your adventures.

Almost everyone has to board a plane at least once in their life. Having hearing loss can complicate that somewhat, especially if you wear hearing aids. However, long-term wearers have perfected the art of travelling with hearing aids, and many of them have shared their experiences online to help others. We’ve gathered some of the best tips to help you get through the checking, boarding, and flying process as easily as possible.

Before the Trip

Packing is the most essential part of travelling. Everything you need must be accounted for, or you’ll be dealing with a great amount of stress. While small things like painkillers and phone chargers can be replaced at any airport kiosk, your hearing aids and their accessories are more precious. Because of that, these should be among the first things you pack, and the main things you check before leaving the house.

It’s also worth noting that hearing aids should never be packed in your checked luggage. Like any necessary medication, they’re vital and difficult to replace. If your luggage gets lost or stolen, it can seriously impact your entire trip. For that reason, you should pack your hearing aids, extra batteries, chargers, and additional practical accessories in your carry-on luggage. If you have a bag that can be carried on your person, like a purse or fanny pack, it might be best to put them there.

If you’re worried you might be forgetting something, here’s a list of necessary hearing items to help you double-check your own packing.

Extra batteries. You might not be able to find these abroad, so make sure you’ve got enough for your entire trip and then some.

Charger. If your hearing aids operate using lithium-ion batteries, make sure you’ve packed your charging case & cables.

Converter. If you’re travelling internationally, make sure you have the proper converters for your rechargeable hearing aids.

Dehumidifier. No matter where you go, you’re going to need your dehumidifier. If your trip is to a cold location, it’s important that you dry out your hearing aids after being in the cold. Likewise, tropical and hot destinations might cause humidity and sweat to gather.

Cleaning kit. Maintenance doesn’t stop during vacation. Make sure to pack your cleaning kit!

Accessories. You’re not just travelling with hearing aids, you’re travelling with their accessories too. Make sure accessories like mics, Bluetooth connectivity accessories, and portable cases are well-packed and easy to find.

Hearing Protection. Using noise-canceling earphones isn’t uncommon, especially on flights. You might want to block out the sounds of children or neighbouring conversations. Make sure they’re packed before disembarking.

Packing isn’t the only thing you need to do before leaving for your trip. If you know of a text-service that will alert you of gate changes, consider getting it. If your flight does experience a gate change, you’ll want to be informed ahead of time. Most text-alerts will also let you know if there are any delays or boarding calls for your flight.

In the Airport & On the Plane

Many people consider navigating the airport the most stressful part of travelling. When you have hearing aids, this process can be even more intense and overwhelming. The overlapping noise can make it difficult for you to hear family members, travelling companions, TSA agents (Link to TSA Notification Card), and airport officials. To avoid confusion, make sure to let your conversation partners know that you are hard of hearing. If they know ahead of time, they will be able to make accommodations for you.

If the sound in the airport gets overwhelming, consider turning down the volume on your hearing aids. Lowering the volume can also help when you go through metal detectors. While hearing the world around you is important, protecting your hearing from prolonged noise exposure is part of healthy hearing.

Once on the plane, you can settle down and prepare for liftoff. Here are 10 tips to help you have an easy flight, from takeoff to touchdown.

  • Stay awake during ascent and descent. If you fall asleep, you might not be able to deal with the altitude pressure properly.
  • Inform your flight attendant of your hearing loss. They’ll be happy to help or repeat instructions to you if you need it.
  • Keep your hearing aids close during your flight. You never know when you might need them.
  • Don’t stash your hearing aids in the seat pockets. It’s easy to forget or break them when they’re not in your personal luggage.
  • Avoid using earplugs during takeoff and landing. The flight attendants or pilot might have things to say.
  • Turn up your hearing aid volume during instructions. Even if you’ve heard them before, it’s important that you pay attention to flight staff.
  • Use noise-reduction features. If there’s a crying baby, turbulence, or loud engines, you should consider ear noise protection. Some hearing aids come with these features built-in.
  • Chew gum. This is a common tip but flexing the jaw can relieve pressure. Gum encourages jaw movement, so you won’t forget about it.
  • Book a seat near the front of the plane. The sound of the engines is louder near the back of the plane. Sitting near the front can reduce ringing in the ears.

After the Flight

Many wonder: can flying cause hearing loss? While some report pulsatile tinnitus after flying, this is temporary and should abate after a while. If you do experience unusual hearing loss after flying, speak to a doctor. While there are some hearing risks during flights, they shouldn’t cause long-term hearing loss. The risks associated with flying and the ears are usually caused by exposure to noise from the engines. For that reason, noise canceling headphones and earbuds can help during certain parts of the flight.

One common travelling problem is swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear causes can range from bacterial infections to water trapped in the ear. If you plan on swimming, make sure to use earplugs and dry your ears thoroughly after swimming. Dry off for a while before putting your hearing aids back in, to avoid trapping unclean water in your ear canals.

Regardless of where you’re going, the objective of travelling is to get to your destination safely and securely. Preparing for your flight, following instructions, and protecting your hearing are all ways that you can ensure a safe trip. If you’d like more tips on living with hearing loss, consider signing up for the Signia newsletter. You’ll get updates on announcements and articles about hearing aids, aural health, and dealing with hearing loss.

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