Flying is stressful enough, but it can be particularly nerve-wracking for those traveling 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 traveling 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 traveling. 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.
It’s also worth noting that hearing aids should never be packed into 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. A bag that can be carried on your person, like a purse, backpack, or fanny pack, might be the best place to put them.
If you’re worried you might be forgetting something, here’s a list of necessary hearing aid items to help you double-check before you leave:
- Extra batteries. You might not be able to find these abroad, so pack more than enough for your entire trip – and throw in some more just to be safe.
- Charger. If you wear rechargeable, lithium-ion hearing aids, don’t forget to pack your charging case and cables.
- Converter. Traveling internationally? Then make sure you have the proper plug 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 build up on your devices.
- Cleaning kit. Maintenance doesn’t stop during vacation, so you’ll want to pack your cleaning kit!
- Accessories. You’re not just traveling with hearing aids, you’re traveling with their accessories, too. Make sure your Bluetooth connectivity accessories, and portable cases are well-packed and easy to find.
- Hearing Protection. Using noise-canceling earphones can be helpful on flights to block out the sounds of children or neighboring conversations. Remember to pack them back up before getting off the plane.
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 or other important information, consider getting it. Most text-alerts will also let you know if there are any delays and keep you updated when boarding calls begin for your flight.
In the airport and on the plane
Many people consider navigating the airport the most stressful part of traveling. 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, travel companions, TSA agents, 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. 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 eight 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 ears or in your personal luggage.
- Avoid using earplugs during takeoff and landing. The flight attendants or pilot might have important updates to share.
- Turn up your hearing aid volume during instructions. Even if you’ve heard these instructions 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 by encouraging jaw movement.
After the Flight
Many wonder: can flying cause hearing loss? While some report tinnitus after flying, this is temporary and should go away 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 earplugs can help during certain parts of the flight.
One common problem once you get your destination is swimmer’s ear, which can result from swimming in a pool, hot tub, ocean, or lake. 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 traveling is to get to your destination safely and securely. Preparing for your flight, following instructions, and protecting your hearing are all ways to ensure a safe trip.
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