A few months ago, I made a Facebook status update announcing how happy I was to have new hearing aids. Well, I’m still glad to have them, but I have one main gripe about their touch screen. The slightest drop of sweat that contacts the touch screen will cause the hearing aid to act unpredictably.

My hearing aid model can be found here. And as you can guess, instead of having the old-fashioned hearing aid switch that you click to increase the volume control, there’s a touch screen instead. Pushing your fingertips up the back of the hearing aid will increase volume; pushing it down will decrease volume. And touching the hearing aid will change the mode (e.g. the T-coil, or telecoil).

Actually, that’s almost as annoying to me as my main gripe, which I mentioned earlier. Suppose I have an itch near the back of my ear. If I inadvertently touch the back of the hearing aid while trying to relieve myself, I’ll change the mode when I don’t want to. This forces me to make a few more touches in order to get it back to the old mode. And switching modes causes a temporary blockage of sound from entering my ear.

But to me, the bigger problem is that if I engage in any sort of physical activity for just a few minutes, the sweat that gets in touch with the hearing aid will cause it to behave abnormally. When my hearing aids first acted weirdly by making a lot of beep-beep-beep sounds due to sweat, I thought they were breaking down. But then I realized that the sweat was causing the hearing aid mode to change! The sweat seemingly perturbs the touch screen and causes it to touch itself. So I end up tapping the hearing aid a few more times to get it back to the right mode. But then it changes modes again! And again! The cycle continues.

So, for instance, when I go to the weight room, I make sure I have my backup hearing aids on, which do not have a touch screen. Alternatively, I’ll just take off the hearing aids. (This presents a multitude of additional risks, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not experienced with lifting weights, or if the gym is especially crowded.)

I’ve learned my lesson. I’m still happy to wear these hearing aids, but when I get new pairs in a few years, I’ll be sure to avoid the ones with touch screens.