Troubleshooting Common Hearing Aid Problems


Although you would never consider cutting out your own appendix, in today’s world, the internet has made it easy to self-diagnose a hearing problem and purchase an over-the-counter hearing device.

Not only do you risk further damage to your ears, but you’re also on your own when it comes to troubleshooting. Your hearing aids should address your specific type and severity of hearing loss, which is what I provide for my patients in and around Lacey, WA.

In addition, my team and I provide ongoing hearing care that includes troubleshooting support, maintenance, and repair.

Like any other equipment or advanced technology, getting the most out of your hearing aid includes occasional troubleshooting.

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Here are four common problems hearing aid users encounter and how to fix them.

Problem #1: No Sound

If you have put your hearing aid in your ear and hear no amplified sound, there are only a few possible causes, including:

  • The device is off. Check the position of the power switch.
  • The volume is too low to provide amplification. Adjust the volume to the proper setting.
  • Battery problem. Be sure the battery is properly positioned (not upside down). Battery life is from 4 days to two weeks, depending on use, so keep plenty of batteries on hand to replace them as required.
  • Blocked microphone or speaker. Daily cleaning prevents this issue, but you might have missed something during cleaning.

Problem #2: Uncomfortable Sound

Keep in mind that amplified sound to ears that are used to muffled sounds is a shock to your brain. In most cases, you’ll just need some time to get used to your device. However, there are some other problems you might need to consider, such as:

  • Get used to the familiar sounds in your home before wearing them in public.
  • Ensure that your device is set to the right program and volume.
  • Check for wax or debris buildup, causing volume controls to stick in the wrong position.
  • Make sure the microphone, tube, and earpiece are clear of earwax, dirt, and/or debris.
  • Be sure your unit is moisture-free. Consider a drying case to ensure moisture removal.
  • If the sound of your own voice is uncomfortable, consider reading to yourself aloud to get used to it.

Problem #3: Whistling or Feedback

One of the most uncomfortable sounds you might encounter is a high-pitched whistling. This is feedback caused when amplified sound is picked up by the microphone and reamplified. Fixing this problem includes:

  • Removing and reinserting your hearing aid (use a mirror until it’s natural).
  • Check the volume is set to the right level. Too loud will cause feedback issues.
  • Try changing tips or domes for a better fit to your ear canal if your device came with extras.
  • Make sure your ear canal is clear of earwax.
  • Inspect the unit for cracks in the case, tubing, or loose wires.
  • Be sure that no clothing items or hair is brushing against the microphone.

Problem #4: Uncomfortable Fit

Like new glasses or a dental device, your hearing aids will cause some discomfort to the muscles and skin around your ears. Although they are lightweight, your body has to adapt to their weight and constant contact against your skin. Some ways to remedy initial discomfort include:

  • Use lotion to alleviate dryness and skin irritation around your ears (check with your hearing care provider concerning device compatibility).
  • Wear your hearing aids for as long as possible, and then take a break. Massage the muscles around your ears and let them rest before reinserting. Gradually increase wearing time while reducing the duration and frequency of breaks.
  • If discomfort continues, ask your hearing care provider if different domes or tips might help with the discomfort (you’re out of luck with this one if you bought an OTC device).

South Sound Audiology Provides Ongoing Support for Our Patients

Your hearing aids provide enormous benefits capable of improving your quality of life. Still, like any other type of advanced technology, troubleshooting is often part of the process of learning how to use them.

The team at South Sound Audiology and I are always eager to help with troubleshooting and provide the necessary support to ensure that you are using your hearing aids and getting the most benefit from them.

If you or a loved one is struggling with your hearing aids, don’t hesitate to contact us and ask for help. We’re always here for you.

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Julie VanAusdal

Since 2006, Ms. VanAusdal has operated South Sound Audiology, applying 20 years of education, experience, and expertise to provide hearing solutions to pediatric and adult patients in the greater Olympia community. She is passionate about restoring the relationships and opportunities her patients lost because of hearing challenges. Her greatest motivation is seeing her patients enjoy a more active, rewarding, and independent lifestyle due to better hearing. Her commitment to our community shines through in her patient-centered approach to her audiology practice.

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