Moisture is one of the most common reasons hearing aids malfunction. Whether it is because a patient forgot to take off their hearing aids before jumping in the swimming pool, they wear their hearing aids while working out or they live in a climate with high humidity, moisture is hearing aids’ biggest enemy.
Audiologists hear daily from our patients complaining that “my hearing aids don’t sound right” or “my hearing aids are dead”. It costs a lot of time and money to both clinics and patients to be seen over and over again with hearing aid issues, to ship out repairs, provide loaner devices and wait for up to two weeks to receive the repaired hearing aids. Could there be better alternative that allows us to try and repair hearing aids in the clinic to prevent some of the back-and-forth hassle for our patients?
Redux Professional Hearing Instrument Dryer has set out to do just that. It is an electronic drying system and claims to remove all moisture from hearing aids. It is marketed as the gold standard of moisture removal equipment. Their market research showed that 98% of hearing aids contain harmful moisture and that by using their dryer, 50% of hearing aids that were deemed ‘dead’ and 82% of hearing aids that were considered ‘weak’ were completely fixed.
Redux is simple to use. The user places up to two hearing aids in the chamber and chooses one of three settings based on the type of hearing aids and how much time is available for the drying process. The first two drying cycles run for approximately 12 minutes (for the Redux XH model) or eight minutes (for the Redux Pro) and are separated based on whether the hearing aids use rechargeable or disposable batteries. The third setting is a four-minute rapid setting.
"One benefit of Redux is that the clinician can measure real-time humidity levels in the hearing aids and can verify how much moisture has been removed"
As the drying cycle continues, Redux changes the atmospheric pressure in the chamber to lower the boiling point of water. This means that moisture can evaporate out of the hearing aids at a lower temperature. The first setting for rechargeable hearing aids heats to around 37⁰C and the second setting for non-rechargeable hearing aids heats to around 46⁰C. Redux claims that these temperatures do not damage the hearing aids and all the moisture can be removed from the hearing aids safely.
One benefit of Redux is that the clinician can measure real-time humidity levels in the hearing aids and can verify how much moisture has been removed. Without a moisture sensor, clinicians do not know the cause of ‘weak’ or ‘dead’ hearing aids and, more often than not, have to send the hearing aids to the manufacturer for repair. However, the moisture sensor in Redux shows clinicians the moisture content of the hearing aids so that they know the cause of the issue. With Redux, over time, clinicians would be able to identify patients who have frequent moisture issues and would be able to create patient-based care plans to better service their hearing aids. This would prevent permanent hearing aid damage and having to send the hearing aids repeatedly to the manufacturer for repair.
"Over time, clinicians would be able to identify patients who have frequent moisture issues and would be able to create patient-based care plans to better service their hearing aids"
Another benefit of Redux is that drying cycles can be performed by anyone in the clinic and as frequently as needed. This means that patients can be seen on emergency bases (think about the patient that just went swimming with their hearing aids) without having to book time in the clinician’s schedule. This frees up clinician time and allows for those emergencies to be seen as soon as possible.
The biggest disadvantage of Redux is that it comes with a high price tag at around $3500 USD. This is a significant investment to a clinic, and the question is, does the high price tag benefit hearing aid users and clinicians more than what is available at a lower price point, such as products that use desiccant beads or even rice? This is a decision that needs to be made on a clinic-by-clinic basis, however, Redux has a rent-to-own pricing option which may help lessen the economic stress on a clinic. In addition, after speaking with the President of Redux, Reuben Zielinski, Redux has plans to launch a lower-priced professional model in Q1 of 2023 as well as a revolutionary home-based dryer for consumers. The home-based dryer, available in June 2023, will be distributed by clinicians to those patients who have inordinately wet hearing aids.
Ultimately, Redux seems like a great tool to help us continue to make patients happy. Whether or not it’s worth the money for me will come after seeing it in practice for a little while.