Getting a new hearing aid is a momentous occasion filled with anticipation of the beautiful sounds you’ve been missing. Whether it’s your grandchild’s piano recital, logs crackling on the fire, or a conversation with friends over coffee, you don’t want to miss another note of the wonderful sounds around you. Restoring impeccable sound quality to patients is the best part of an audiologist’s job. But we know that with any new accessory, there’s a bit of a transition period. Just like with a new pair of shoes, hearing aids might feel a bit uncomfortable at first until you adjust to the new way of hearing. That’s why you should always purchase hearing devices from a trusted audiology specialist who provides professional aftercare. Audiology Associates offers one-on-one appointments to fit, test, and familiarize you with your new device with the highest level of personal attention. We want to perfect your hearing as quickly as you do, so here are tips to troubleshoot 4 common hearing aid problems.

1. No Sound

It’s possible to put in a hearing aid and actually hear nothing at all. While this might be alarming, there’s usually an easy fix that can be done from the comfort of home. If you purchased your hearing aid off the shelf, there’s a chance the device is defective or insufficient for your needs. But if you purchased from an audiologist, they will make sure your hearing aid works at your initial fitting. So, if there’s no sound at a subsequent wearing, try these simple solutions.

  • Check the Power Switch- You might feel silly if you realize you forgot to turn on your hearing aid, but this happens more often than you think. Not only is it a step you’re not used to taking, but the power switch can also be triggered by inserting the hearing aid, so it’s a common cause of no sound.
  • Check the Battery- Sometimes if a battery is loose, or improperly installed, the battery door can be slightly ajar, which prevents power to the device. This is a particular risk when you purchase a hearing aid from a store and not an audiologist. Batteries can also run out of power, particularly if they have been sitting on a shelf. An audiologist will make sure your battery is properly installed and powered up and can provide additional batteries to have on hand.
  • Check the Volume- We’ve all turned on the radio or TV and thought something was wrong, only to find that the volume was turned all the way down. Hearing aids are no different, so check that your volume is not turned too low. Sometimes the volume can get switched by accident when we handle the device. Since we all hear at different levels, your ideal volume setting will be different than someone else’s. Try a few levels to see which is best for you.
  • Check the Cleanliness- Everything from the receiver tube to the microphone can get clogged with dust, ear wax, or other particles. See if there is anything blocking the device and clean it according to manufacturer’s instructions, or visit your audiologist for assistance.

2. Uncomfortable Sounds

If your sound quality is making you cringe, there are easy ways to adjust it. Don’t settle for sound that’s too loud, too soft, or too choppy, when there are solutions for each issue. Many devices can even be programmed to stay at optimal settings customized to your preferences. Check that your settings are correct and then try these troubleshooting tactics.

  • Inspect the Battery for Corrosion- When your hearing aid is properly fitted by an audiologist, moisture damage is not a common problem. But improperly fitted devices can allow moisture to seep in and corrode the battery. Moisture distorts sound and can sometimes be remediated with a dehumidifier, while other times it requires a new battery.
  • Inspect the Controls- Sometimes lint or debris can collect in the control switches, causing sound disruption. Rotate your controls to remove any foreign particles and reset them to your preferred setting. Also make sure your setting hasn’t been accidentally switched to a different mode with a lower quality of sound.
  • Inspect Your Hearing– Once you are accustomed to your hearing aid and everything’s working properly, if your sound quality is no longer as good, there’s a chance your hearing has changed. If you struggle to hear with your aid set to your optimal setting, schedule an appointment with your audiologist to see if you need a different device.

3. Whistling & Feedback

Unpleasant squealing or whistling sounds can cause a startle, but there’s usually a quick way to fix them. Hearing aids create this “feedback” when they encounter friction, an improper fit, damage, or excessive volume. Try these quick tips to prevent the jarring sound and promote pleasant listening.

  • Power Up After Placement- When the device rubs up against something, a whistling sound can occur. This includes the contact it makes with your ear on insertion, as well as contact with any clothing or accessories that graze the device. Wait until your device is properly installed before turning it on to reduce the risk of feedback.
  • Lower the Volume- Much like radios and TVs emit unpleasant sounds when the volume’s too high, a hearing aid can create feedback when too much sound passes through. Try reducing the volume to see if feedback continues, as long as the sound is still sufficient for you.
  • Steady Your Head and Hand- Hold your head as still as possible for a few seconds after you turn it on, since movement can create feedback. Insert your device at the ideal angle with steady placement, and reinsert it at a different angle if feedback continues.
  • Check for Damage- If you’ve heard wind whistling through a crack in the door, then you know how a crack in the hook or tube of your hearing aid can cause a squealing sound. Visit your audiology specialist if you suspect your hearing aid has sustained damage.
  • Schedule a Fitting- Hearing aids purchased off the shelf are often the wrong shape or size for your ear. Improper fit can cause friction and movement that creates irritating feedback. An audiologist can help determine the perfect device to fit your ear snugly and eliminate the issue.

4. Uncomfortable Fit

It’s normal for your hearing aid to feel a little unusual at first. Just like wearing your first pair of contacts or piercing your ears, your brain focuses on the new sensation, making it more noticeable for a bit. But soon, you will forget that it’s there and enjoy an improved quality of life with excellent hearing restored. If you don’t find yourself adjusting to the hearing aid or experience issues like pain or slippage, you might need to address the fit.

  • Slipping Around– An improperly fitted device can cause everything from pain, to feedback, to corrosion. If your device is not staying in place or continues to feel uncomfortable, you may need a different size or shape. Once you’ve been properly fitted, keep your ears free of wax and moisture that can increase slippage and be sure to insert your aid at the ideal angle.
  • Headaches and Stuffiness- Mild headaches and “plugged ear” sensations are common symptoms of adjusting to new hearing aids, since your brain has a lot of new information to process. Some patients find that lowering the volume during the adjustment period helps ease this transition. Contact your specialist if symptoms persist.
  • Uncomfortable Rest- Hearing aids now exist in such diminutive sizes and shape varieties that you should never be uncomfortable when you sleep. We know you rely on nocturnal hearing ability for things like tending to pets and hearing telephones and alarms. Have your audiologist help you select a comfortable device and train you on appropriate sleep settings so you never have to be without sound.

A new hearing aid expands your horizons to enjoy family, work, hobbies, and friends in ways you’ve been missing out on. Audiology Associates are thrilled to partner with you in restoring this vital ability so you can reclaim the life you deserve. We offer personalized care to help you adjust to your device and troubleshoot any issues. Don’t take your chances with a universal device off the shelf- your hearing is too important. Contact us today to find the perfect fit for you!

 

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Melissa Segev, Au.D., F.A.A.A.

Melissa Segev, Au.D., F.A.A.A.

Dr. Segev is a Maryland native and the co-owner of Audiology Associates. She received her undergraduate degree from Towson University and her clinical doctorate in audiology (Au.D.) from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently serves as president of the Maryland Academy of Audiology and is a fellow member of the American Academy of Audiology and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology. She has given talks at national conventions on hearing loss and the best ways to manage patient care. Dr. Segev specializes in the programing and fitting of hearing aids as well as balance disorders.