Hearing aids allow my patients to return to their normal lifestyles or a higher quality of living. Unfortunately, a major challenge as an audiologist is motivating those who have hearing aids to stick with them and receive the hearing assistance they need. Many hearing aid wearers end up tossing them into the junk drawer with other unused gadgets because they become frustrated. I have compiled a list of some common hearing aid problems along with simple troubleshooting tips to encourage users to stick with their hearing aids.

No Sound

This is a common issue for many of my patients who are still getting used to wearing their hearing aids. It usually relates to any of several problems, which are easy to correct:

  • The unit is off. It is easy to accidentally turn off the power, especially when you are adjusting to using new hearing aids. The fix is to turn it on again.
  • The volume is too low. Because it takes some time for your body to get used to hearing aids, some sounds become uncomfortable and users turn the volume to its lowest level. Just turning up the volume can fix the problem of no sound.
  • Wax or debris is blocking the microphone or receiver. A quick examination and cleaning of the unit can easily remedy this issue as well.
  • The battery is dead. If neither of the other solutions fixes the problem, it might be time to recharge (newer models) or replace the battery.

Uncomfortable Sounds

Your brain has gotten used to muffled sounds, so there is a bit of a shock factor associated with the new hearing capacity provided by your hearing aids. In many cases, the sound of your own voice or background noises become uncomfortably loud. Though you might need to take periodic breaks from your hearing aids during the initial weeks, stick with them, because the discomfort will decrease as you adjust to them. One trick to help break them in faster is to read aloud.

Whistling or Squealing

Associated with uncomfortable sounds is the common issue of whistling or squealing. Though less common in modern digital hearing aids, it is still a problem. These sounds are similar to the acoustic feedback often heard with sound equipment. The issue relates to something being too close to the microphone or too high of volume.

  • Readjusting or repositioning the unit in your ear is most often the remedy. I instruct my patients to use the mirror to ensure proper insertion until proper placement becomes second nature.
  • If repositioning does not solve the issue, then decreasing the volume might provide the solution.
  • Note whether your scarf or hat is touching your hearing aid and readjust it accordingly.

Wearing Discomfort

Just like with eyeglasses and braces, new hearing aids take some getting used to. The weight and pressure, though minimal, is more than your body has had to deal with before. Wear your hearing aids as long as possible to achieve the very best benefits, but take a break from them occasionally until you get used to them.

If the discomfort continues for an extended period of time, it could mean that your hearing aid was not properly formed, something my patients do not have to worry about, because I fit them in your ears and examine their fit when they arrive. This is not always true if you have received your hearing aids from a hearing aid distributor or they arrived to you in a box. Additionally, because your ears are slightly different, if you have two hearing aids, be sure that you put the unit designed for the left ear (signified by a blue mark) in the left ear and the one designed for the right ear (signified by a red mark) in the right ear.

Hearing aids significantly improve your quality of life, making maintenance and troubleshooting well worth the effort. I encourage you to take the time to become fully acquainted and comfortable with your hearing aids and how to use them properly. If you need some help adjusting or troubleshooting them, you can count on my team at Audiology and Hearing Aids Associates and me to give you a hand.

Contact the Audiology and Hearing Aids Associates team or me for more troubleshooting solutions and adjustments to your hearing aids.

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Erika Shakespeare CCC-A

Erika Shakespeare CCC-A

Erika Shakespeare, CCC-A, specializes in pediatric and adult diagnostics and amplification. Working with adults to help manage tinnitus and hearing loss since 2002, she is an expert in both of these areas. Additionally, she is a pediatric audiology mentor and educator for pediatric audiologists across the country and is one of the most respected experts on pediatric audiology.