Well, you’ve done it- you’ve got new hearing aids, and you managed to wear them and take them off that night. Now it’s the next morning, and you need to put them back in- but you don’t know which one is which! Which hearing aid goes into which ear? Are they interchangeable? Let’s explore these Big Questions.
Does it really matter?
Yes, it really does! Hearing aids are not interchangeable. The hearing aid for your right ear is shaped for the right and programmed to suit the hearing in the right ear. The same is true of the left ear. Even if your hearing is symmetrical, in other words, the hearing loss is the same between the two ears, there will be slight differences in the way the hearing aid is set that suits the natural resonances and acoustics of the individual ears. You might be able to force a right hearing aid into the left ear, but you won’t be hearing at your best if they aren’t where they were designed to be.
But they look the same!
Yes, they might look almost identical, but there are subtle differences that allow you to tell which ear the hearing aid belongs in. If it’s a Behind-The-Ear or Receiver-in-the-Canal hearing aid, the shape and angle of the wire or tube will give you a clue. Hold the hearing aid up as if you’re going to put it on- with the technological part of it, the actual hearing aid, facing towards your back. See which way the tube natural points. If it points to the right, the hearing aid goes on the left side, so that the tube can go into the ear canal. If it points to the left, the hearing aid goes on the right.
Isn’t there an easier way?
Well, yes, there absolutely is an easier way! Audiologists and hearing aid manufacturers have a standard way of marking hearing aids so that you can see clearly and easily which ear the aid belongs in. We use the colours red and blue. Look for a red or blue mark or dot somewhere on the hearing aid. It might be in the battery door, under the body of the hearing aid, or on the receiver which goes into the ear. If you see red, it means the hearing aid is for the right ear. Remember- Red for Right! Blue is always for the left ear.
If you’re still struggling to tell which hearing aid goes into which ear
For some people, especially people with vision problems, the small red or blue dot might not be visible enough. If you’re at home and you can’t tell, ask a loved one to help, or pop in at your audiologist. The receptionist should be able to help you tell which one is which. Speak to your audiologist about this problem. There are many creative solutions that we can utilize to help you tell more easily. Sometimes we will use a bit of nail varnish to clearly indicate the right or left ear for you (please don’t try this at home!). There is also the option of using two different cases for the two different hearing aids and marking them clearly. If you always put the right aid into the right case, and the left aid into the left case, you should be able to easily pick up the desired aid in the morning without getting them mixed up.
It’s easy to tell which hearing aid goes into which ear! But if you aren’t sure, chat with your audiologist. There will be modifications and strategies that you can use to help you figure it out quickly and easily. Have you tried any interesting techniques? Let us know in the comments below, or contact us if you have any questions or concerns.