Common Hearing Aid Issues and Repairs
Is your hearing aid not working properly? It might be time for a service and simple repair. Whilst modern hearing aids are made to withstand the tests of time and everyday life, no electronics are indestructible and a little wear and tear are completely normal.
With the proper maintenance and regular servicing, you can however greatly extend the lifespan of your hearing aids. Here is what you should know about common hearing aid issues and repairs.
Taking Good Care of Your Hearing Aids
With the proper care and attention, you can help to avoid the need for hearing aid repairs. It starts with simple things, such as regularly cleaning your hearing aids and using a wax guard. Avoid dropping, knocking or bumping your hearing aids and always check for moisture in your battery drawers when you remove your hearing device. A quality hearing aid can last you anywhere between three to seven years, given that you take good care of it.
Hearing Aid Repairs
Whether you’ve been wearing your hearing device for a long time or just got new hearing aids, issues can crop up from time to time and are oftentimes easy and inexpensive to resolve. Being without your hearing aids can be stressful, especially if you suffer from moderate or severe hearing loss and have been relying on your hearing devices for some time.
Hearing aids at Attune Hearing always come with a worry-free guarantee. Should your warranty have expired, there’s no need to panic. Since your hearing health and well-being are our highest priority, we offer cost-effective maintenance, servicing and repair options for all brands of hearing aids with fast turnaround times.
What are the most common hearing aid issues?
Inserting Hearing Aids Incorrectly
Sometimes the most difficult thing is getting your aids into your ears. If the hearing aid is not inserted properly, the sound will not reach your eardrum and you won’t hear well. If the aid is not inserted properly you may also experience feedback (a whistling noise). Hearing devices can only help your hearing or relieve your tinnitus if properly inserted.
Should you have any difficulty inserting or removing your hearing aids, please do not hesitate to contact your audiologist. They will be happy to assist you!
Wax Build Up
Hearing aids can cause ear wax to build up faster, as the aids prevent the natural processes for the wax to make its way out of the ear canal. Wax can block the microphones and receivers and prevent sound transmission, making it appear as if your hearing aid is not working. A build-up of wax in your ears can also cause tinnitus. If your aid has a wax filter your audiologist will show you how to change or clean it.
Hearing Aid Feedback
If you cover the microphone ports on a hearing aid the aid will often whistle. Cupping the aid in your hand or covering the hearing aids to check if they whistle is a common way to check if hearing aids are working. However, if your aids are whistling when you raise your hand, walk through a door or are not in close proximity to another person or surface, this could be a feedback issue.
Your audiologist will be able to run a feedback test. Wax in the ear canal or wax blocking the aids may also cause feedback. Incorrect insertion of aids (such that the sound bouncing back off the ear canal wall) may also cause feedback. Occasionally what is perceived as feedback could be tinnitus. It’s important to see your audiologist as soon as possible to rule out any changes in your hearing and to have your hearing aids serviced or repaired.
Hearing aids generally either have disposable or rechargeable batteries. Commonly, rechargeable batteries are encased within the aid and cannot be removed. They are charged by placing the aids into a charging station at night or when not being worn.
When placed into the charger flashing lights will appear and the aid will be powered off. Occasionally if not inserted properly into the charger they will not turn off and will not charge, so end up flat instead of charge in the morning. Correct positioning in the charger is important.
For aids with disposable batteries changing the batteries is usually the first thing people do if they have trouble with their aids. Disposable batteries do have an expiry date (which you’ll find on the back of the packet) but if the batteries are removed from the packet they can discharge before being used, especially if they come in to contact with other batteries or other metal objects.
Opening the battery doors when aids are not being worn is the most common way to turn off aids with disposable batteries. How far you open the battery door can determine whether the aids are turned off and whether they are still draining the battery. Some battery doors need to be opened further than others to prevent battery drain.
If in doubt the battery can be removed from the aid to ensure the aid is turned off. Be sure to keep the battery away from the aid or other batteries.
If your batteries are draining or going flat within a few hours or only lasting a couple of days let your audiologist know. Your hearing aids may need to be sent in for a service.
Some behind-the-ear hearing devices have a tube through which the sound passes from the aid into the ear canal. These tubes come in various sizes, lengths and thickness. If the tube is broken the sound may leak out and the hearing aid will sound weak or produce feedback. If the tubing is blocked the sound can not pass through the tube to reach the ear. If you have not been shown how to unblock or change your tubing take your aids to your audiologist who will fix this for you.
Hearing “unwanted” sounds
When you’ve had hearing loss for a while your brain acclimatises to what it thinks is “normal” hearing. After you get hearing aids, your brain has to re-acclimatise and get re-accustomed to hearing sounds it’s not used to hearing.
Hearing your footsteps or your breathing or maybe even the indicators in your car can be sounds you haven’t heard in a long time and your brain may initially pay more attention to these sounds than it needs to. The more you wear your hearing aids the sooner acclimatisation will occur.
High pitched sounds
A high-frequency hearing loss is common for people who have suffered noise exposure, as we age or following some illnesses. This type of hearing loss is also commonly associated with tinnitus. As this type of hearing loss usually worsens gradually. If the low and mid pitched hearing is still close to normal it may take years to fully appreciate the degree to which your hearing has been impaired.
During those years before someone seeks help for their hearing loss, their brain has gone without high-frequency sound input. This may cause tinnitus, where the neurons that would normally be detecting these sounds are not being stimulated. This lack of stimulation can cause them to fire when they shouldn’t, causing the brain to interpret the presence of high-pitched sounds that aren’t really there and this is one of the causes of tinnitus.
Your audiologist may have recommended hearing aids for your hearing loss or to treat your tinnitus. Amplification of those high-pitched sounds can reduce your tinnitus and give back the clarity of the speech, no longer does it sound like everyone else is mumbling!
However, some hearing aid wearers need more time to acclimatise to the high-pitched sounds than others. This is one of the reasons why your audiologist will suggest you wear your hearing aids as much as possible, to get used to these high-pitched sounds more quickly, which will improve your hearing and can reduce tinnitus.
If despite your best efforts, your hearing aids make everything sound very “tinny” or the high-pitched sounds are painful or unbearable it is important to let your audiologist know.
Your audiologist will be able to tune your aids in such a way that you hear better but sounds are still comfortable. Don’t be afraid to make another appointment, they can’t help you unless they know you are having difficulties.
Hearing your own voice
When we put fingers in our ears or our ears are stuffed up when we are sick, the sound of our voice changes and we call this occlusion. The sound of your own voice can not pass through the ears as it normally would and this changes how you perceive it. Your audiologist will have to balance the issue of occlusion with ensuring you get adequate amplification from your hearing aid.
Even without occlusion, your own voice will sound different to you when you are wearing hearing aids. This is because your voice, along with other environmental sounds is being amplified. Once again, the more frequently you wear your hearing aids the sooner you will acclimatise to the sound of your own voice and it won’t sound strange anymore.
Difficulty changing volume or programs
Some hearing aids have buttons or dials to alter the volume or program settings on your hearing aids. These buttons are programmed by your audiologist. If you are not sure what your buttons do or are having difficulty feeling the buttons, let your audiologist know as there may be an alternative option such as a remote control or a mobile phone app which can be used instead. Programs can be set up to fine-tune your aids for particular situations, such as in background noise or to enable a tinnitus masker for tinnitus relief.
Tinnitus or ringing in your ears frequently coincides with hearing loss. To reduce the perceived loudness of your tinnitus your audiologist may have turned on a tinnitus masker for you. This can be a sound similar to white noise or static or a more rhythmical sound like ocean waves. If your aids have a tinnitus masker program and you are not sure how to change into or out of that program or how often you should use your tinnitus masker program, see your audiologist for advice.
After wearing aids for a period of time most wearers with tinnitus report reduced tinnitus severity, this does not usually happen overnight and unfortunately, some tinnitus sufferers report no relief even after wearing aids for long-term, whereas others report that their tinnitus completely disappears or is greatly reduced.
Hearing Aid Issues – Where to Find Help
If you continue to have difficulty managing your hearing aids or you feel that your hearing or tinnitus have worsened, schedule an appointment with your local Attune Hearing clinic. Our friendly and well-experienced audiologists will be able to further assist you.
Give us a call today 1300 736 702 or book a hearing test, hearing aid maintenance or repair service online here.