What do I do if My Hearing Aids Aren’t Working or They Aren’t Loud Enough?
By Sebastien Woo, M.Sc., Reg. CASLPO
Imagine purchasing a new pair of hearing aids. The first time you put them on is similar to getting a new car. Everything is shiny and everything works great. Feeling extremely satisfied, you venture off into the world and explore the many new sounds you haven’t heard well for many years.
As we keep wearing the hearing aids every day for many hours and for many months, you will go through times where you feel like the hearing aids aren’t working as well as they used to or that it feels like they aren’t working at all. This blog will be focussing on five of the most common problems that can occur with hearing aids and some solutions that can help make your hearing aids work well again.
- “I am getting a lot of whistling sounds from my hearing aids”
When putting the hearing aids on or taking them off, it is completely normal to hear your aids whistle (also known as feedback). Once properly inserted, there should not be any more whistling.
If you are still hearing some whistling or screeching sounds, it may be due to the following problems:
a) If there is a significant amount of ear wax present in the canal, the wax can cause the sound to bounce back and produce feedback. Have your family doctor or your hearing healthcare professional look inside your ears and determine if wax removal is recommended.
b) If your hearing aids are a few years old, they may no longer be functioning properly. Alternatively, if you have had a recent change in health, the shape of your ear canal may have changed. A good indicator for this would be to see how well your hearing aids or ear molds fit in your ears. If they feel loose when inserted, the fit of the hearing aids may no longer be adequate to keep the sound from leaking out of your ears. In either case, seeing your healthcare professional may be your best course of action.
- “My hearings aids aren’t as loud as they used to be or the sound from the hearing aids are distorted. What’s wrong?”
If you find that your hearing aids aren’t as loud as they used to be or that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to, your hearing may have changed. It is often recommended that an annual hearing test be completed to monitor your hearing and to make sure that if there is a change in hearing, then the hearing aids be adjusted accordingly. If you feel a hearing test is required, make an appointment with your hearing health practitioner.
If your hearing has not changed from your previous test and if you have a behind-the-ear style hearing aid with an earmold, the tube that attaches the earmold to the hearing aid may need to be replaced. There may be something that is no longer functioning correctly with your current hearing aids or it may require some cleaning. The best course of action would be to clean the hearing aid and see if that remedies the problem or make a service appointment with your hearing care professional.
- “My ears hurt when I try and wear my hearing aids”
If you recently bought a new set of hearing aids, getting the proper fit is extremely important. If the fit is too loose, the hearing aids may easily fall out. If they are too tight in your ears, they may pop out, cause discomfort or even create painful sore spots in your ear. In all cases, visit your hearing care professional as soon as possible to get it modified or remade for a better fit.
- “I feel like my hearing aids plug up my ear and I don’t hear any better”
Often when the hearing aid feels like they are plugging up your ear, it means that the hearing aid is not “on” or that there is a blockage preventing the sound from being heard properly. Double check to make sure that the battery door is closed and that the battery is correctly placed in the hearing aid.
Check to see if the battery still has power and replace it if you think the battery is weak or no longer working. Most hearing aids have a filter that prevents wax from entering the hearing aid. If you can see wax on the filter, the sound may not be properly heard. Replace the filter with a new one.
If all of these actions have been completed and the hearing aid still doesn’t feel like it is working well, please have your hearing aids looked after by your professional hearing care provider.
- “My batteries don’t last long. How long should they last?”
There are typically 4 different kinds of batteries available. The really small batteries (Size 10 batteries) should last about 4-5 days while the bigger batteries should last about 7 days. If you’re finding that the batteries are not lasting as long as they should, check the expiry date of your batteries. The closer they are to that expiry date, the shorter the life expectancy. Be sure that the new batteries all have that little sticker on them as well. If the sticker is partially or completely removed, the battery may have less power or may be completely drained.
Do you have rechargeable batteries? If so, it is important to keep in mind that as the batteries are used more often, the daily life of the batteries will decrease. It is recommended to replace these rechargeable batteries annually.
Lastly, if you believe that the batteries are fine and that the hearing aids may be the culprit, contact your hearing care professional to conduct a battery drain test. This is a quick test that provides the estimated life of a battery. If the results show a below average result, your hearing care professional may send them to the manufacturer for further investigation.
I hope that this information assists you during the times where you feel your hearing aids are not performing to your satisfaction. Please keep in mind that while there are many things that you can do to maintain and ensure that your hearing aids are working properly, it is equally important that you visit your hearing care professional periodically as a check-up for your hearing and as a way to maintain and extend the life of your hearing aids.