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Traveling can be stressful! Thinking about what to pack, standing in lines at packed airports, and sitting for a long period of time on an airplane is part of the traveling experience that we unfortunately cannot avoid. For people who experience hearing loss and wear hearing aids, there are additional aspects of travel to take into consideration. Protecting your hearing health, particularly during travel, is necessary and supports you maximizing the quality and safety of your travels! There is important information to be mindful of and protective measures you can take to avoid damage and unnecessary hassle!
Hearing Health Risks
There are aspects of travel that can be especially impactful for people with hearing loss. It is critical to be aware of the risks to your hearing that traveling can have and the ways you can mitigate them. These risks include the following:
- Airplane Noise: planes are very noisy and depending on how long your flight is, you may be exposed to this noise for a long period of time.
- Heightened Tinnitus: tinnitus refers to the ringing noise in one or both ears which is a common symptom of hearing loss. You can experience heightened tinnitus on an airplane due to changes in pressure levels.
- Swimmer’s Ear: also known as otitis externa, this is an ear infection caused by water that remains in your ear after swimming. So, if pools or oceans are part of your travel plan, this is a potential risk.
- Exposure to Loud Noise: in addition to airplane noise, depending on where you are traveling to, you may continue to experience loud noise – trains, subways, concerts etc.
Identifying the impact travel can have on your hearing allows you to take the steps to effectively navigate it with as little harm to your health as possible. Remember that these risks are definitely manageable, you just have to start by taking the time to properly prepare!
There are things you can do to ensure that you are being mindful and proactive about your hearing needs. This will allow you to fully enjoy your travel and care for your health!
1. Prepare & Pack Your Hearing Aid + Accessories
In preparing for your flight, make sure that you have done all the things to properly maintain your hearing aids. This includes cleaning, replacing batteries, and fully charging your hearing aid overnight. You should take extra batteries, charger, and cleaning supplies. If you are traveling internationally, you will need to bring a converter to charge your hearing aids throughout your trip. Make sure you have a separate bag for your hearing aid and accessories (mics, Bluetooth connectivity etc.).
2. Wear Your Hearing Aids During Flight
Hearing aids are not regulated on flights the same way that other electronic devices are (for example laptops and phones). This means that you can and absolutely should be wearing your hearing aids during the take-off and landing of the plane. You should definitely use any noise cancellation features your hearing aids may have so that you can reduce the noise from the plane and cabin. If you decide to watch a movie, you can remove your hearing aids and make sure they are stored in your baggage (and not the seat pocket!) so that you do not forget them. You should notify flight attendants of your hearing loss and they can be prepared to repeat any information if necessary.
3. Protect Ears While Swimming
If you plan on swimming during your travels, do all that you can to prevent swimmer’s ear! Before swimming, be sure to remove your hearing aid. You should use earplugs while you swim and thoroughly dry your ears after. Allow your ears to fully dry before placing your hearing aid back in your ear.
Traveling for people with hearing loss does not have to be overwhelming and additionally stressful. Preparing for your travel can put you at ease and really prevent harmful situations. You want to make sure that you are equipped with the things you need to properly use and care for your hearing aids throughout your travel. Protecting your hearing health can only enhance your travel experience!