Troubleshooting common hearing aid issues

01/20/2016

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by Nancy Salim

If you’re new to hearing aids or have been wearing them for a while, you probably know how important it is to follow a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule. Even with proper care, your hearing aid might still encounter issues on occasion. Most hearing aid problems can be resolved with patience and a little troubleshooting—here are some common hearing aid issues you may encounter.

I can’t get used to my hearing aids. Are you new to hearing aids? Some wearers adjust to hearing aids right away and some take a little longer—it’s natural to have an adjustment period. Don’t get discouraged if it takes time. You will need to get used to the new routine of wearing hearing aids and your brain needs to adjust and adapt to processing sounds that it’s hearing. Try to increase the time you wear your hearing aids each day until you’re comfortable wearing them for a full day.

My voice sounds too loud. This is called the occlusion effect—the “plugged-up” sensation that causes a hearing aid user’s voice to sound louder inside the head—and is very common for new hearing aid users. When an unvented ear mold, or some object, completely fills the outer portion of the ear canal, this traps the sound vibrations of a person’s own voice in the space between the tip of the ear mold and the eardrum which causes the occlusion effect. Usually, when people talk or chew, these vibrations escape through an open ear canal, but when the ear canal is blocked by an ear mold, the vibrations are reflected back toward the eardrum and increase this plugged up feeling. Although some individuals get used to this effect over time, it’s best to visit your hearing care professional who may be able to repair your hearing aid and reduce this effect.

My hearing aids aren’t loud enough. First, inspect your hearing aids. Do you see wax blocking the microphone opening? If so, clean it out. If your hearing aid has tubing, like a Behind The Ear (BTE) device, check to make sure there is no damage to the tube, or accumulated moisture. If there are no blockages, try turning up the volume. Still not loud enough? It may be time to visit your hearing care professional and have your hearing aids adjusted, or to get your hearing tested to see if your hearing has changed and it’s time for an upgrade.

I get feedback from my hearing aid. A whistling sound can be caused by a hearing aid that does not fit or work well or is clogged by earwax or fluid. First, try taking your hearing aids out and putting them back in. If that doesn’t work, turn down the volume—if they stop whistling then you may need to have them adjusted by your hearing care professional because that means there is too much sound coming in through the vent. If you’re still getting feedback, it may be that your ears have too much earwax and need a professional cleaning by an ENT Doctor.

I hear background noise. Background noise is most evident to new hearing aid users because they may not have heard any for a long time. The ability to suddenly hear these “annoying” noises like screeching brakes and clanking dishes may be overwhelming at first, but gets easier with time. Although hearing aids may not completely eliminate background noise, they do have very sophisticated noise processing circuitry, which means the sound quality is more natural, even with background noise present. Many hearing aids have channels that filter out background noise, some of which change automatically in different listening situations, making it easier to focus on your conversation and less on what is happening around you.

I hear a buzzing sound when I use my cell phone. Cell phones sometimes cause radiofrequency interference with hearing aids causing users to hear high-pitched whistling sounds, buzzing or static while on the phone. Before you buy a cell phone, you should try different brands and models to see which works best for you. Some phones have lower radiofrequency emissions or use different technologies that can reduce these effects on hearing aids. The FCC now requires cell phone manufacturers to test and rate their wireless handsets’ hearing aid compatibility using the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C63.19 standard. These ratings give an indication of the likelihood a cell phone may interfere with hearing aids—the higher the rating, the less likely you’ll experience interference with your hearing aid. Pay attention to the ratings when choosing a cell phone.

Need to find a hearing care professional near you? Give us a call at 888.902.9310.

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