Dryers - actually helpful, or not?

The spores are all over. I think the main thing is to create a less hospitable environment for them by trying to keep things dry. I’m surprised they didn’t suggest a little nystatin cream. Shouldn’t take more than a few days to clear up fungal infection. Did you have any awareness of it?

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Not at all. On my 2500 mile trip to St. Louis via New Orleans, then Memphis, then back through Arkansas, I did not always clean my HA’s every day so I wonder if that could be a source of the problem. Also, I tend to sleep most of the night on my left side because of old back problems and a slight amount of acid reflux so perhaps I don’t let my left ear dry out as thoroughly during the night as the right, which is open to the air most of the night. I might have once put a small amount of a mild steroid a single time in that ear because I was concerned that inserting and removing that mold was going to make that ear canal psoriatic but that was such a relatively long time ago and a one or two time only thing, I doubt that would be the cause.

Interesting article that I just came across in following up on MDB’s nystatin suggestion:
https://journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal/Pages/ArticleViewer.aspx?year=2014&issue=09000&article=00004&type=Fulltext

Great article. Boy, with no symptoms I’d almost question if it wasn’t more like what was described in the article with fungi growing on ear wax. Some techs get a little ahead of themselves in what they think they know. Interesting that acidifying seems standard tx with intact eardrum, reserving antifungals for non intact eardrums. I’d be curious what your wife thinks. I mentioned nystatin without any knowledge of fungal ear infections but as common treatment for fungal infections in other dark, moist parts of the body.

I guess Westone is just a distributor and the source of Dry & Store devices is dryandstore.com.

Seems like unfortunately that they’ve discontinued the Professional model - it was expensive, heavy, and deemed non-portable but their other devices heat the HA’s to 95 to 104 deg F - so I’ve asked them if there is any way to use the UV and turn the heat off in any of their current models. Perhaps there is a UV-box only somewhere that would be cheap and fun to play around with to see if it keeps my elephants away…

I just received my HA’s back from factory service. They are about 18 months old and also rated IP68. Like many of the previous posts, I am sweat profusely in the summer. Starting last spring (lawn care season) when working outside, my HA’s would go dead. At first I thought it as a bad battery so I changed the battery. I noticed when I opened the battery compartment that the battery holder was slightly moist. I removed the battery and dried it. I also gently blew into the battery compartment to help dry it out. Voila! The HA’s sprung back to life, for a while. Depending on the day, I might have to dry the battery, et al several times. I finally returned them to my audiologist that I purchased them from; he returned them to the factory and I received new HA’s. Since I received the replacement HA’s, I still have the moisture problem causing the device to drop out.

Back to the topic of this thread. I have faithfully stored by HA’s in Dry and Store Global II Electric Hearing Aid Dehumidifier TRG-AA (which I purchased from my audiologist with my HA’s) when I take them out since they were new. I can’t say that I believe that this dehumidifier helped dry my devices as the problem persisted. I agree that if the devices at rated at IP68, perspiration shouldn’t be an issue. Although, I would think that the battery compartment should be fitted with at least a rudimentary seal of some sort. For this reason, I voted that it can’t hurt.

I live in south Florida, near the coast, where it is always humid. I do not live with air conditioning so my ‘ears’ get damp. As I said earlier I run a dehumidifier in my office every night, so the ‘ears’ go in there.

widex gave me two free accessories and i choose the dryer as one of them and very glad i did

have gotten into the shower at least twice and gave them them a pretty good bath, popped into dryer and they are as working great

i now routinely dry them regularly in the winter

the heat is low and shuts off after 4 hours, seems like a no-brainer to me

is there a downside i am not aware of ?

HI. I have Oticon Opn 2 MiniRITE aids and had multiple issues with my battery charger for the rechargeable batteries. I had the batteries and the doors and the charger replaced three times and on the third time, I purchased the dryer. I have put my aids in it EVERY night since (except one) and I have not had any problems. Now it could be that I finally got a charger that is working correctly or it could be that the dryer has something to do with it or a combination of both.

So for me. It worked. Hope this helps you.

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I agree with @MDB that sources of infection are out there everywhere and as I’ve previously noted in other threads, just because you’ve sterilized your HA, doesn’t mean you’ve sterilized your ear canal. Whatever was in there the day before is probably still in there now. And as you go to put your HA in, your “sterile” device is bumping up against the outer surface of your ear lobe - and did you “sterilize” that with an alcohol wipe before inserting your HA?!

Nevertheless, as noted above, I’ve contracted a fungal infection in my left ear canal. Think it might be from inserting HA’s too soon after getting out of the shower with too much moisture still in my ear canal or perhaps even from a recent road trip that went through East Texas, Lousiana, on up through Memphis, TN, all very humid places. One of the inexpensive places we stayed had a moldy smell even in the main lobby! Wearing very occlusive receiver molds for 14 hours or more a day probably doesn’t help.

My concern, though, is that my ReSound charging “storage” case has both receiver/mold ends rubbing up against each other in the central bay. So if I do have a problem with one ear, it might be easy to transfer it to the other ear.

In the interests of “keeping the elephants away,” I have bought a “special edition” Dry and Store DryMax UV unit. I contacted Dry and Store, lamented that all their units heated the HA’s during the drying cycle to 104 deg F, which wouldn’t do for my ReSound Quattro Li-ion rechargeables, which shouldn’t be exposed to such high heat for an overnight drying cycle. The Dry and Store folks didn’t say exactly what they did (probably just disconnected the heater but left the fan running during the drying cycle) but they are supplying me with a unit that only heats the HA’s to 75 to 81 deg F in a 70 deg F room environment but still has the UV and drying features (DryBrik Mini’s) of the regular DryMax UV. Same price as regular DryMax UV bought directly from them ($115), $8 FedEX 2-day shipping, and no sales tax added.

So I do plan on using it as a safe, secure area for storing my HA’s where hopefully the receiver ends won’t touch or it won’t matter much after the 90-sec UVC treatment and I won’t have to worry in the future if I have a problematic ear that I don’t yet know about contaminating the other ear.

Should note that in the sales lingo, Dry and Store tries to have their cake and eat it, too! OTOH, they claim 99.99% bacteria killing. OTOH, they state that they make no claims about sterility. That the purpose of the UVC is purely to reduce the bacteria population that may lead to itchy ears - they are not claiming at all to sterilize your HA’s. Fungal spores are harder to kill than bacteria and since ear wax can probably shield spores for UV exposure, it’s probably a good idea to thoroughly clean one’s HA’s before using the unit.

So for me, this is just another fun experiment. As noted in the first few paragraphs of this post, you can’t sterilize your ear canals, stuff can fall in from anywhere, mold and bacteria are everywhere, and it’s hard to keep your HA’s sterile while inserting. But perhaps such a device can help keep an infection established in one ear from spreading to the other ear - I’ll be amazed if it hasn’t already (see my ear PA in another week).

The Dry and Store service was excellent. If any rechargeable user is interested in a similar device, I’m sure they’d be happy to help you out (their products ain’t cheap!).

Have done some further reading on ear infections, particularly fungal infections. Two articles of special interest to me.

A 2004 Q & A article on Audiology Online by John P. Leonetti, MD. In the article, he states:

Hearing aids do not cause otomicosis. This is a fungal infection of the external auditory canal, which generally occurs as a result of trauma to the skin lining of the ear canal. This trauma can be self-induced from a finger nail, bobby pin, car key, etc., or can be due to external penetrating trauma to the ear. It is possible that the hearing aid mold caused irritation or a tear in the skin lining of the external auditory canal, which allowed the normal fungal inhabitants of the ear canal to cause an infection. The ear canal is normally a happy host to a variety of bacteria and fungi, but a torn ear canal skin lining in combination with moisture is a welcome medium for fungal and/or bacterial infection.
https://www.audiologyonline.com/ask-the-experts/causes-fungal-infection-in-eac-579
(emphasis mine)

A more recent 2016 article authored by Dr. Laurence Knott states:

Factors that predispose to otitis externa include absence of cerumen, high humidity, increased temperature and local trauma - usually from use of cotton swabs or hearing aids. Cerumen has a pH of 4 to 5 and so suppresses both bacterial and fungal growth. Aquatic sports - including swimming and surfing - are particularly associated because repeated exposure to water results in removal of cerumen and drying of the external auditory canal[4]. There may be a history of previous invasive procedures on the ear[5]. Eczema is another predisposing factor[6].
Fungal Ear Infection (Otomycosis). Fungal Infection Treatment | Patient

One might deduce from both these articles that care of the ear, rather than care of the hearing aids in dryers, UV light, etc., is more important at least to avoiding fungal infections. An interesting thing about the fungal infections is that they tend to occur unilaterally, going along with the trauma aspect. And unfortunately perhaps for my future prognosis, there is a relatively high (30% to 40% in one study) incidence of recurrence.

In my own instance, I surmise (no good evidence) that what might be predisposing me to a fungal infection in my left ear is that I wear a very occlusive mold for > 14 hours per day, tend to sleep on my left ear, am psoriatic and have the most trouble inserting my left ear mold because of the somewhat unusual shape of my small left ear canal. Irritated psoriatic skin flakes off easily, gets inflamed, and exposes capillary blood vessels.

So I do have my special reduced temperature DryMax UV dryer for my Li-ion-powered Quattro’s to avoid roasting their nonremovable batteries every night But from what I’ve read so far, I think more TLC for my left ear canal is the answer to avoiding a recurrence of my fungal infection. Will ask physician’s assistant and my audi if there is anything I can put in my ear canal as a prophylactic that won’t screw my receivers (the prescribed 2% acetic acid has a propylene glycol vehicle that seems to accumulate as a glop in my left ear canal). Normally, one would apply a steroid externally to an inflamed psoriatic region but the irony of that, while suppressing the autoimmune reaction involved in psoriasis, the immunosuppresion helps promote fungal growth.

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I’d agree that effort taking care of your ear is likely to yield more benefit than care of your hearing aids (with regarding to preventing fungal infection) Although steroids might promote fungal infections, it is interesting that many antifungal treatments include a steroid. My suspicion is that benefit vs risk is worth it, especially for controlling psoriasis.

Worn hearing aids for 33 years and never used anything to dry my hearing aids. Have had no issues with moisture etc. But then again, I live in the U.K.

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I use a dryer every night, I was part of the package with my hearing aids that I received from the Veterans Administration. I personally sweat like crazy and I live in a very humid area. I even sweat in the winter as I hike or do my daily walks. If I do not use the dryers then I have had hearing aids to fail.

Exactly. Different circumstances and different climate so some may need to use dryers while others may not necessarily need them. If I had continuous issues then yes I would use one but I haven’t ever had an issue so don’t feel I need to start using one now.

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I have no evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, as to whether dryers extend the life or not. I live in a dry climate, and my provider recommends them any way, so I find it a convenient place to store my aids overnight. I use an inexpensive compact one called Dry Dome that I bought on Amazon that uses heat. One benefit I did notice about the dryer is that it solidifies the earwax that accumulates on the hearing aids so that I can easily remove it in the morning with my microfiber cloth.

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yeah, it kinda seems there’s not likely any hard evidence…especially with recent models…
I was kinda half expecting but more so hoping an audiologist of manufacturer here to have some “real science”…
but we seem to be left with logic and empirical “best practice”

I keep thinking it’s another solution in search of a problem…something to needlessly throw my money towards… but then I keep coming across things like vids from Dr Cliff suggesting them…and then i roll back to the idea that the idea is plausible and might help…and won’t likely hurt anything except my wallet…

I have one in my cart at amazon…why not…ugh!

Here’s a nice bit on evaporation as it relates to clothes drying. No studies, but includes some science: The science of drying - how to be a clothes line ninja | MetService Blog

I think the best answer on here was this one:

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No practical coating is totally damp-PROOF. They all seep moisture.

The IP ratings came from equipment in the rain. The wet/dust exposure is one to few hours. Generally once, and the equipment works. Not tested later after corrosion has set in.

Now your aids are in a very damp environment 16 hours/day every day. That’s a lot of soak-in.

I’ve swim-tested a fair lot of electronics. Some don’t die quickly (some do!).

I suspect, at least the lower price jobs, that there is no thermal cut-out. If you put a couple-Watt heater in a closed (vented) box, it will tend to run a fairly constant temperature-difference above ambient. Say 25F rise. In a 70F room it will tend to run 95F inside, without need for thermostat. And the reduction of RH humidity will be a similar number, so 70F 75RH in the room will tend toward 95F 50RH. Nice and dry.

OTOH, in the east coast of the US and gulf coast of Texas, 90-90 can be common many months of the year. In a non-A/C room the box could go to 115F which might be bad for something. And while 65RH is better than 90RH it isn’t dead-dry.

Yes, most such folks have A/C. But many A/C systems I see are quick-designed to cool, not to dry the air. If your house gets cool in an hour it probably is not getting real dry. Here in coastal Maine we don’t mind the heat but it sure gets damp. I under-sized the A/C so it runs steady from 2pm well into the evening with a couple midnight blips, and it pulls the RH down 10%.

West of Kansas City out to San Diego you may have heat but a “damp day” may be 50RH (“it’s a dry heat!”). Leaving the aid on the night-stand may be all the drying-out you need.

And of course many germs happy in damp places will not like dry. Even 70RH seems to stall mold and mildew in my cellar. In my damp land, that means running the dehumidifier most of the summer (it just cut-out at Halloween).

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Thanks for the detailed post.

Have used a dry and store for some time and have found my repairs have dropped to almost zero. Humidity is the enemy. I have actually had hearing aids that started to fail because of sweat/water and dried them out in the box and they were restored to functioning.