Common Hearing Aid Problems (and What to Do About Them)
Hearing aids are complex and expensive devices. Daily maintenance is the key to extending the life and quality of your hearing aids. The biggest cause of hearing aid failure is wax and moisture seeping into the microphone and receiver! Proper maintenance will help avoid having to troubleshoot problems.
- Be sure to keep your fingers clean and dry before handling your hearing aids. You much protect your hearing aids from dirt and oil. The microphone is very small and easily blocked by dirt and oil.
- Remove your hearing aids before applying hair care products like hair sprays, makeup and spray perfumes or fragrances. These products may clog the microphone and volume control switch.
- Moisture is the enemy of hearing aids and will completely ruin them. Be sure to remove them before showering or swimming. Never leave hearing aids in the bathroom while you are showering.
- Put a note up in your bathroom if needed as a reminder. When you are comfortable with your hearing aids in, forgetting to take them out is easy to do because you are not thinking about them.
- To further combat moisture, leave the battery compartment open at night and invest in a drying kit. These devices are easily available from many manufacturers. Drying devices are important for all types of hearing aids.
- Keep your hearing aids out of reach from pets and children when you are not wearing them. If the battery door is closed when not in use, the hearing aids emit a high-frequency noise that might attract dogs who will make quick work of eating up your investment, literally.
- You should receive a cleaning kit with your hearing aids and at least one pack of filters (wax guards) that protect receivers. The proper use of these wax filters will protect your receiver.
- Change these wax guards as often as they need to be changed.
- You may need to consult with your provider about how often to change them as this varies by person and how much ear wax is produced in the ear canal.
- Cleaning your devices in the morning after drying overnight makes wax dry and easier to remove.
- Caution! Never use alcohol, solvents or cleaning agents on your hearing aids. You should only use special hearing aid care products, such as hearing aid wipes and sprays. These products are easily available. Check with your hearing center as they may sell them or help you find the best products.
Troubleshooting common hearing aid problems
Problem: Power / battery life
- Check that your hearing aid is on. This seems silly and too simple, but it’s very often the most common issue when you think your battery may be dead.
- Check the receiver tube for blockage (wax, moisture, dust) and clean if necessary.
- Always keep an eye on your battery life, as hearing aid batteries are tiny and drain quickly. You can expect anywhere from four days to two weeks from each battery.
- Get a hearing aid battery tester to check the voltage on old batteries before replacing them with new ones. If the voltage is okay, another problem may be to blame.
- Check that the battery is inserted correctly. The battery may be upside down (sign: the battery door won’t close).
- Carry spare batteries with you. Check with your insurance to see if batteries are covered, as many do cover them.
- Always switch off your hearing aids when not in use.
- Leave the battery door open when not in use to preserve battery life.
- Inspect batteries for corrosion, which can happen even if the battery life is fine.
Problem: No sound
- Is your hearing aid manually turned off and on? Check to see if it’s on. You may have accidentally hit the switch or left it off.
- If your hearing aids are on, check the volume to be sure it did not slip to a lower setting.
- Check the battery if there is still no sound. The battery may be upside down or you may need to change the battery if the charge is gone.
- After battery troubleshooting, inspect the receiver tube to see if it blocked. Clean it if you find a blockage.
- Finally, check the microphone for wax or dirt, which can block sound. Clean it and try your hearing aid again.
Problem: Feedback (whistling sound)
- Your hearing aid may not be aligned or inserted properly. Remove your hearing aid and then reinsert it. Do not turn your heard before the hearing aid is securely placed in your ear.
- Avoid turning on your hearing aid until it is inserted and fits properly.
- Your earpiece may not be fitting into your ear properly. You can replace it with a dome, closed tip or different size.
- If these steps do not work, try turning the volume down as too much sound may be trying to get through the hearing aid.
- Inspect your hearing aid for any cracks in the earhook or tubing and replace if necessary.
- Finally, you may have an earwax blockage in your ear canal. Do not try and clear the blockage yourself! You may easily damage your ear or even rupture your eardrum. Have a medical professional clear the earwax.
- Some hearing aids have a feedback elimination feature. Discuss this option with your hearing medical professional if it is a concern for you.
Problem: Sound distortion or volume issues (not loud enough)
- Is your hearing aid set to the right volume and program? If not, reset to the proper program. It can accidentally be set to the wrong program.
- Look for any dust or debris in the controls, rotate them, reset them and then clear any debris.
- Check the microphone, earpiece or tube for debris like wax or dirt or lint and clean appropriately.
- Moisture may have gotten into the hearing aid. This step may require using a hearing aid dehumidifier overnight.
- These dehumidifiers are small containers with an absorbent desiccant lining that removes the excess moisture. No batteries or electricity is required. Place the hearing aid in the container before you go to bed, close the lid and check the hearing aid in the morning.
- Another option is an ultraviolet cleaning storage box, which is designed to sanitize and remove moisture and condensation with dry heart. The box uses ultraviolet light to inhibit bacterial growth.
- Both of these items are available from various manufacturers. You may want to check with your hearing center for their preference.
- If none of these steps work, it might mean that your hearing needs may have changed. You should have your hearing aid checked by your hearing professional.
Problem: Inconsistent or intermittent sound
- Check the microphone, earpiece and tube for debris (wax, dirt, dust), which can interrupt sound. Clean these parts.
- Reset the controls to release any debris that may have collected in them.
- Check the battery for low voltage and replace if necessary.
- Buzzing noises may result if you accidentally turn on the loop (telecoil) setting. Check it and switch back to the normal microphone setting if this is the case.
- In the beginning, you may experience mild headaches or a plugged ear feeling as you get used to your new hearing aids. This is normal.
- However, improper fitting hearing aids can cause persistent headaches. Visit your hearing medical professional if you are experiencing persistent headaches.
- If you’ve lost weight, your hearing aids may not fit appropriately any longer. Visit your hearing medical professional to fix the issue.
If you cannot find a comfort fitting level with your hearing aids, you will need to visit your hearing medical professional.