As an audiologist, every day I speak with patients in our hearing clinic about the difficulties that come with hearing loss. A gratifying part of my job is helping my patients address those challenges. When starting to use a hearing aid is part of the solution for a patient, my colleagues and I work diligently to make using a hearing aid for the first time a successful experience.
We educate our new users on the proper use and care of their hearing aids. Learning to use your hearing aid from a hearing specialist is one of the many benefits of getting your device from an audiologist. Another benefit is we’re able to provide a high level of aftercare to help you adjust to your hearing aids. These services aren’t available to people who purchase off-the-shelf hearing aids without the assistance of an audiologist.
Many of these troubleshooting tips are things we teach our patients that we thought would be helpful for new users outside of our practice. Here are four common hearing aid problems and what you can do to address them.
#1 There’s No Sound
When your hearing aid doesn’t seem to be working, we always recommend that new users check to see if the power is on and if the volume is set to the correct level. That may seem obvious, but it happens.
It takes time for a new user to get familiar with putting the device in or on the ear. Since the process is unfamiliar, it’s easy to accidentally turn the power off or the volume down. We suggest new users look at a mirror to put their devices on until the process becomes second nature.
A hearing aid battery may last for somewhere between a couple of days to a couple of weeks. It could be time to replace the battery.
Wax could be blocking the microphone or the receiver. Use the tools that came with your device to gently clean those components.
#2 Certain Sounds Are Uncomfortable
As a new hearing aid user, you may find your own voice and background noises are too loud. While those sounds may be uncomfortable now, your discomfort will ease as your brain adjusts to receiving sound through your new device. You can take steps to make the transition easier.
Since your brain is learning a new skill, it needs regular practice to be successful. That’s why it’s important to wear your hearing aid regularly. It’s okay to start by wearing your hearing aid for a few hours a day. Then, you can gradually increase how long you’re wearing it until you always wear it when you’re awake.
Try reading aloud. Often, it speeds up the process of getting used to hearing your voice through the hearing aid. Reading aloud also helps you learn to speak at a lower volume.
Until you get used to your hearing aid, you may want to turn it off when you’re in an environment with lots of background noise. Cocktail parties and busy restaurants probably are not the best places for testing out a new hearing aid.
Most hearing aids include noise reduction technology to help you filter out background noise. You may need to adjust the setting for noise reduction. If you’re using an app to control your hearing aid, you should be able to change the noise reduction settings with the app.
#3 The Hearing Aid Whistles
You’re experiencing acoustic feedback. You’ll hear a high-pitched squeal or whistle when sound that should have exited the hearing aid from the speaker re-enters the device’s microphone.
Typically, hearing feedback sounds means the hearing aid hasn’t been inserted properly or that something is too close to the microphone. Taking the hearing aid out and putting it back in frequently resolves feedback issues. Another thing that can be helpful is turning the volume down. Finally, you’ll want to make sure your scarf or hat isn’t touching the hearing aid.
#4 The Fit Is Uncomfortable
If you’ve ever had braces or eyeglasses, you know it takes time for your body to get used to them. In the same way, you can expect a period of adjustment to get used to having a device in or on your ear. Your slight discomfort should go away soon if you’re wearing your hearing aid regularly.
For users who have hearing aids for both ears, an uncomfortable fit could be the result of accidentally switching the devices to the wrong side. Removing the hearing aids and switching ears should solve this issue. To prevent mix-ups, most hearing aids meant for the right ear carry a red mark while devices for left ears usually have a blue mark.
Experiencing anything more than a slight discomfort is a reason to speak to your audiologist in Houston. To improve the fit, your hearing specialist may need to make small adjustments to your custom hearing aid.
Are You Still Having a Problem with Your Hearing Aids?
These troubleshooting tips should resolve most problems new users have with their hearing aids. If my tips didn’t provide a solution for your issue, contact our hearing clinic.
Dr. Lacey Brooks received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry in 2003, and earned her doctorate of audiology in 2009. She completed her clinical internships and residency at various facilities within Houston Medical Center. Dr. Brooks is a professional member of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), a member of the Texas Academy of Audiology (TAA), and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is also the vice president of the Louisiana State University Houston Chapter Alumni Association.