Solutions for Common Hearing Aid Problems
If the aid “goes on and off” or makes scratchy sounds
- Work the switch back and forth. Sometimes dust or lint will interfere with electrical contacts. Read through for other common solutions, or contact your hearing aid dispenser.
If the aid makes a whistling sound
- Remove the aid. If this increases the whistling sound, put your finger over the opening in the earmould. If the whistling stops, the problem may be improper insertion of the earmould or a poor fit.
- Re-insert the ear mould carefully and try the aid again. If the whistling persists, consult the hearing aid dispenser.
Improper Battery Insertion
- A hearing aid will not function if the battery is not inserted correctly. All batteries are similar in shape. One side is flat and one side is beveled. The flat side is marked with a “+” and numerals. The beveled side is plain. Battery doors and compartments are marked with a “+” sign. The “+” sign on the battery compartment must match the “+” sign on the battery. Most battery compartments are beveled to accept the beveled side of the battery, which is another way to check for proper insertion. Do not force a battery into a hearing aid as this may cause severe damage.
Wrong Size Battery
- If the battery is not the correct size, it will be difficult or impossible to insert into the case.
Poor Battery Care
- If the battery has been in contact with metals, it will have deteriorated. Sometimes old and new batteries have been stored together and the user is not aware if they are using an old or a freshly purchased battery.
- This will cause a scratchy, hissing or frying sound. In the case of corrosion, clean the battery terminal with a pencil eraser. If the contacts have worn, they should be replaced.
- Batteries are poisonous if swallowed. At times they have been mistaken for a pill, and swallowed. Dead batteries should not be thrown in the garbage.
- Store dead batteries in a container in a safe place and turn them in to a hearing aid specialist or local service agency, who will dispose of them.
- You can also check with the local recycling depot for information on disposal.
- Store in a dry place, such as a dresser drawer, at room temperature.
- Leave new batteries in the carton.
- Direct contact with other batteries or metal objects will cause rapid deterioration. If batteries are carried about in a purse or pocket, they should be wrapped, to prevent contact with any metal. It is best to keep them in their original packet.
- Batteries will deteriorate if stored in the sun or in a hot car.
- It may be best, in some cases, to use zinc air (air cell) batteries, as they do not begin to deteriorate until the individual seal is removed.
Please note – mercuric oxide batteries may be preferred by some hearing aid users, particularly when the hearing loss is profound, or when there is a severe hearing impairment, not only as to sound, but also as to clarity.
- Each night the battery should be removed from the hearing aid and the battery door and hearing aid case should be left open. This will expedite drying especially during hot, humid times.
Drying Hearing Aids
- Commercial sources sell a drying container, equipped with a drying agent (desiccate envelope or canister) to extract moisture. Ask your local hearing aid dispenser if they carry this, or refer to one of the catalogues available. Canisters may be re-used by drying them in an oven according to instructions.
- You can also dehumidify your hearing aid in a small jar with a tight lid, partly filled with dry rice, or with a packet of silica gel, available from a florist.
Long Term Storage
- When a hearing aid is not in use, the battery should be removed and the battery door left open. This allows moisture to escape and prevents possible damage from an expired battery. The use of a desiccate storage bag, or jar of rice, is also recommended.
- Hair preparations such as hair sprays can cause expensive damage to a hearing aid microphone. Hearing aids should be removed during hairdressing.
- This is not a common problem, but it tends to occur more in older men than in women. Excessive hair growth in the outer ear canal can interfere with proper seating of the earmould, and can cause discomfort as the earmould is twisted during insertion or removal.
- It may help to snip the hairs short, and clean the outer ear canal with a bit of lubricant such as a mild oil on a cotton-tipped swab.
Ears and Wax Buildup
- Even a small amount of wax will interfere with hearing aid performance. Some hearing aid users have more frequent wax buildup than do others. Ask your doctor check your ears for wax with an ear speculum, and to wash it out, if necessary.
- Accumulation of ear wax increases as one ages. The buildup of earwax may be noticeable on the hearing aid, or it may not be visible but be preventing proper seating of the earmould. Even a small amount of earwax can prevent proper seating of the earmould, and can be missed on examination by someone not experienced in identifying earwax on visual examination of the earcanal.
- Rain, steam, perspiration, excessive humidity, or any other moisture may cause hearing aid malfunction.
- Occasionally people forget to remove their hearing aids when showering, bathing, swimming.
- If this happens, one should shake the excess water from the hearing aid, wipe it dry, and remove the battery and earmould.
- Leave the battery door open and allow it to dry.
- If the aid does not work, factory repair may be necessary.
- Hearing aids and earmoulds are made of plastic and will melt or distort if exposed to excessive heat. They should not be dried with a hair dryer or in the oven, stored in the sun, or any other hot place such as a car dashboard or a windowsill.
Dogs and Cats
- For some reason, possibly the taste of perspiration salt, dogs and cats enjoy chewing on hearing aids and earmoulds. More than one hard of hearing person can tell you a story of when the dog ate their hearing aid! Keep aids away from pets.
Switches and Controls
- Since the volume control is not sealed, dust or debris may collect in the control and cause scratchiness. Switches such as microphone and telecoil are frequently adjusted, so they may wear down and result in intermittent functioning by the hearing aid. Try a listening check of the aid while adjusting the controls to help to identify if the aid needs to go back to the vendor for service. If you cannot hear well enough to do this, enlist the help of another.
- Please note that there are some hearing aids both BTE and ITE which have a hand-held remote control, with different options and settings. This feature can be especially valuable for users who cannot raise their hands to their ears, or who cannot manage the tiny volume controls on ITE’s. A remote control for aids is more expensive.
- The ear-level hearing aids use a plastic tubing connector between hearing aid and earmould. Avoid bending, kinking or use of sharp pointed objects on the tubing. Avoid frequent removal of tubing from the sound nozzle of the hearing aid. The tubing will stretch with frequent removal and result in an inadequate seal, causing feedback. If a finger is placed over the earmould, with the aid turned on, and the squeal persists, cracked or broken tubing may be the problem.
- Earmoulds are a very important component of the hearing loss treatment, and may be vented or not, depending on the individual’s specific type of impairment. The earmould is custom-fit to form a seal for good sound conduction without leakage or feedback.
- The earmould should fit snugly without discomfort. If the earmould hurts, and is correctly inserted, then a visit to the dispenser may be required, either to make adjustments, or to get a new earmould. Earmoulds are made in hard or soft plastic. The audiologist or hearing instrument specialist will determine which type of earmould is best for each hearing loss.
- There are no standards for the manufacture of earmoulds, and some people are allergic to the materials used in their earmould. If the ear canal is reddened and/or itchy it is possible there may be an allergy to the materials used in the earmould. The decision for a new type of earmould will be made, by the audiologist, depending on the findings concerning the presence of an allergy.
- With time, the individual ear canal may change size and shape. This seems to occur more frequently in the elderly. If the earmould becomes loose and there is occasional feedback it may be time for a new earmould.