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Looking after your bone conduction hearing device (BCHD) and middle ear implant (MEI)

Patient information A-Z

Who is the leaflet for? What is its aim?

This leaflet is for anyone with a BCHD or MEI. It contains our top tips on how to look after your implant and sound processor. We also recommend you read the instruction booklet that comes with it

Wearing your sound processor

You can wear your BCHD/MEI most of the time. You should remove your sound processor when sleeping, washing or swimming. Each night your sound processor should be removed and the battery compartment opened. This allows moisture to escape and will lengthen the battery life. We recommend putting the processor in a drying pot every night. The drying pot needs replacing every three months.

Water precautions and cleaning

You should clean your sound processor using a cloth and brush. Do not clean it under water. Most sound processors are not waterproof, so it will need to be removed before swimming, showering, bathing, etc. In rainy conditions use an umbrella or hood to keep your processor dry. Once you have removed your sound processor you can go swimming, bathing etc., without any additional precautions. If you have a Samba BoneBridge or Samba Vibrant Soundbridge you can purchase ‘WaterWear’ from Med-El to allow use in the swimming pool. Please follow their instructions closely to ensure your processor does not get wet.


If the processor does not feel secure on your ear, please discuss this with your audiologist. There are various ways we can try to make it fit more securely. Processors are designed to be knocked off easily to protect the implant and skin. When taking part in activities where you could lose your sound processor we recommend using a safety line. It is advisable to wear the safety line for at least the first two weeks, while you get used to the processor. We recommend children under eight years old wear a safety line all the time.


When taking part in contact sports you should take precautions to prevent direct trauma to the internal implant, fixing or abutment. After taking part in sport, you should wipe any sweat off the sound processor with a soft dry cloth and put your processor in the drying pot to prevent moisture damage.

Hair care

  • Tell your hairdresser about your hearing implant.
  • You should remove your sound processor when applying hair products like hairspray to avoid damaging the processor microphone or casing.
  • If you have a percutaneous BCHD and use a hair dryer, it must not be directed towards the abutment for too long. This is to avoid heating up of the abutment and implant.

Skin care

Percutaneous hearing implants

If your abutment feels loose, wobbly, sore, or the wound is discharging you should contact the Emmeline Centre straight away. A serious infection could result in the loss of the abutment.

You must clean the abutment regularly to prevent debris building up. This can be done using a baby wipe, BCHD soft brush or shampoo in the shower. The audiologist and nurse can give you specific advice on how to do this. A mirror might be helpful. If you have two abutments you should use two soft cleaning brushes – one for each abutment. The brush should be replaced regularly. Getting the abutment wet while washing helps to soften and remove debris hygienically.

We recommend getting someone else to regularly check your abutment and the skin around it for redness or debris.

Magnetic hearing implants

Your audiologist will review the magnet strength during your routine check-ups. The magnet needs to be strong enough to hold the processor in place, however not too strong, as this can squash and damage the skin underneath.

We recommend getting someone else to regularly check the skin underneath your sound processor for redness or an indent made by the processor. Contact the Emmeline Centre immediately if such redness or indent is noted.

When things go wrong

Feedback BCHDs whistle when they are being touched or if they are covered up. This is normal but may mean that leaning back in a chair, wearing high collars, hoods or hats could make it whistle.

Sound quality

The sound from a hearing implant can initially be different to, and often quieter than, the sound of a hearing aid. This is all normal and gradually will sound more natural. If you are having problems with the sound from your processor please contact the Emmeline Centre to arrange an appointment with an audiologist.

No sound

If the processor is faulty or there are problems with the sound quality there are some simple solutions to try.

  1. Check the polarity of the battery to ensure it is the right way up.
  2. Replace the battery with a brand new one. Removing the sticker and leave the battery for 60 seconds before putting it in the processor will extend the battery life.
  3. Check the sound processor for dirt or signs of damage. Gently clean any parts of the processor that are dirty. Contact the Emmeline Centre equipment team if any parts appear damaged.
  4. Read the trouble shooting guide in your instruction booklet.

If the problem remains you should contact the Emmeline Centre equipment team.

Lost processor

Your audiologist will have discussed our lost processor policy with you when they issued your sound processor. If you lose it, you should; search everywhere, ask everyone, retrace your steps and think of all the places it could be. As soon as you are aware of the loss and your searches have been unsuccessful please contact the Emmeline Centre.

Contacts/further information

Emmeline Centre for Hearing Implants Box 163 Addenbrooke’s Hospital Hills Road Cambridge CB2 0QQ

Appointments/general queries

Telephone: 01223 217589


Equipment requests

Telephone: 01223 256019

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151