X-Ray Exposé



“What have I done to you!” I said with remorse to my little beige friend as I Googled ‘hearing aids and X-rays’. I had unwittingly subjected it to a series of dental X-rays last week, and my Google search turned out to be a classic case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

‘Do not wear a hearing aid when having medical diagnostic procedures, including Xrays, CT scans or MRI scans’, warned the search results almost unanimously. The only exception was a lone abstract from an academic paper entitled ‘Dental X rays found to have no effect on hearing aids’, but it was written in 1986 in the pre-digital era and some of the contributors had mighty strange names. Could I, MR Dancer, trust DL Armbruster and JS Laughter? Could the whole X-ray thing just be over-cautiousness on the part of hearing aid manufacturers as JS Laughter et al inferred? Or was there actually a real possibility of a ‘very unusual accident’ as one of the hearing aid vendors in their study implied?

I concluded that if there was even the remotest possibility of a ‘very unusual accident’, then I would be a very likely candidate, but exactly what kind of accident were they referring to? Perhaps it was not the hearing aid which had been in danger that fateful evening in my brother’s surgery…perhaps it had been me! Shit. I pulled back my hair and examined the back of my ear for fatal radiation burns in the shape of a Siemens Chroma S. All seemed perfectly normal, but I still couldn’t get a vision of the ghost of Marie Curie out of my head. She was Googling my posthumous paper entitled ‘Digital hearing aids act as a deadly magnet for dental X-rays in people with cookie bite hearing loss’. I needed bona fide authoritative clarification that I was going to live. Quick.

‘Why should I not wear a hearing aid during X-rays?’ I asked Google.

‘Why should I not wear a bra to bed?’ popped up in the search window. Damn those search engine predictive algorithms. I was momentarily sidetracked by wondering why anyone would want to wear a bra to bed, since I can’t wait to get out of mine at the end of the day, but I soon regained my focus. I hurriedly re-entered the intended search query and hoped that my internet browsing history would never enter the public domain at an employment tribunal.

I scanned the search results and was rewarded with the shock news that ‘Subjecting your hearing aids to X-ray technology may cause them to malfunction’.

Well at least the lead coffin was off, but what about the hearing aid malfunction. I needed more precise information. Was it the kind of malfunction that could lead to me occasionally picking up Radio 2 and taxi control centres? I reckoned I could live with that. Hopefully it wouldn’t be the kind of malfunction which would cause the hearing aid to pick up the sound of every whirring fan within a radius of ten miles, that would drive one mad…oh, wait a minute.

‘What kind of malfunction will X-rays cause to hearing aids?’ I asked Google impatiently. I was getting right fed up by now.

‘X-ray radiation (e.g., CT scans, MRI scans) can cause interference and stop the device from working.’ came the reply. ‘Remove hearing aids and keep them outside the room during these procedures’.

So there you have it folks. If you don’t want to waste your life Googling your mistakes retrospectively, just take the damn things off when you’re having an X-ray, as your long-forgotten hearing aid manual advises, and hope nobody says anything important until you’ve put ’em back on again. Simple.

Update 21.07.11: The Siemens Chroma S appears to have come to no harm despite undergoing 4 dental X-rays in quick succession.

Update 20.02.13: The Oticon Spirit Zests had four x-rays along with my bunion, and are good as new.

Update 01.09.13: The Oticons have had a round of dental x-rays and have survived the experience much better than me…

Update 09.08.17: The Danalogic I-fit 71s have had a mammogram and some dental X-rays and they’re still the size of a couple of chipolatas…


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