Traveling with your hearing aids.
The travel industry reports that more of us are taking trips these days, and that air travel is the second most popular mode of transportation for leisure travelers. So, I’m not surprised that many of my patients have had concerns about flying with their hearing aids, managing the TSA screening process and dealing with hearing aid problems that crop up during vacations. Here are some tips:
First, airport screening presents unique challenges for individuals with hearing loss due to the noise in the environment and the need to understand and comply with directions from the security staff. I recommend that you familiarize yourself with the screening procedures well in advance of your trip (www.tsa.gov/traveler-information). Then you’ll be knowledgeable about the appropriate items of clothing to remove before screening, and the proper way to place your carry-on items on the conveyor. If you know the drill, this phase of your trip should proceed smoothly.
During screening, it is not necessary to remove hearing aids or the exterior component of a cochlear implant before entering the metal detector. These devices will not be damaged by the equipment. Furthermore, removing your hearing aids puts you at a disadvantage when communicating with the security staff. If the officer addresses you, and the message is unclear, be sure to explain that you have a hearing loss. Ask the officer to look at you directly and speak more slowly. Security personnel are trained to assist individuals with hearing loss and should provide an appropriate accommodation, up to and including written directions, if requested.
It’s also important to be prepared for any problems that could disrupt the functioning of your hearing aids during the trip. If I haven’t examined and cleaned your instruments recently, it’s a good idea to schedule a hearing aid check-up before your departure date. Make sure you pack a supply of batteries and a cleaning kit in your carry-on luggage. If you’re traveling to a destination more hot and humid than what we’re accustomed to in Southern California, you might consider purchasing a Dri-Aid kit to take along with you. Dri-Aid uses silica salt to remove moisture that may accumulate in your hearing aids from perspiration or being splashed while lounging by the pool.
We hope these suggestions make your future trips more enjoyable. Happy traveling!