Updated: May 23
You have been using your hearing aids for a few months or a year. They sounded awesome on day one, crystal clear, but not anymore. What could be the reason, and why your hearing aids do not sound as well as before anymore? Is it because of an electronic malfunction? Is it because the batteries are weak? Or is it because of a blockage somewhere?
Continue reading to learn the common reasons why hearing aids could start losing their functionality and quality of sound.
1. You have built ear wax
To start, there is a chance that there is nothing wrong with your hearing aids, but your ear canal(s) are blocked by ear wax. Another common symptom that would support ear wax blockage is that your hearing aid started whistling. Why? Because the sound that is amplified and supposed to go in deep in your ear canal hits the wall of ear wax and bounces back out of your ear, in the sound of whistling.
Solution: To rule this out you could stop by any audiologist and ask for a quick examination of your ear canal. Often, such examination takes less than a minute and very often this is free of charge. If you are in South London around Dulwich, Sydenham Hill or Forest Hill you could stop by my hearing clinic in Lordship Lane Surgery for a quick wax-check otoscopy on Mondays and Thursdays. No appointment is needed. Just asked the receptionist to guide you to the audiology clinic and I'll examine your ear canal in between the patients.
2. Something's wrong with the battery or the charger
New hearing aids are sophisticated pieces of gadgets. But like any electronic device, they need to be powered up by batteries. Both rechargeable and battery-loaded hearing aids could start having problems with their battery. A common problem that contact-based rechargeable hearing aids may start showing is that when you leave them on their charger over night to charge, the two electrodes at the bottom of the hearing aids do not make good contact with the two electrodes that are in the charger set. The result is that you leave them all night to charge, but the next day the hearing aids die off prematurely. The problem of poor or bad contact can happen for battery-loaded hearing aids when the electrodes inside the hearing aid don't make a good connection with the battery. The result in this case is intermittent on and off of the hearing aids. In both scenarios, the problem is due to oxidation of the electrodes which could happen after 3 or 4 years of using the hearing aid.
Solution: If planning to buy rechargeable hearing aids, consider contactless rechargeables that work based on induction. This new generation of rechargeable hearing aids does not have electrodes, instead, use induction technology to charge their battery. If you already have a problem with your current hearing aids I would suggest contacting your hearing aids supplier or audiologist to take a look at the, and likely send them over for a service. Have a faulty hearing aid to repair? Send it to HearingNow London.
3. The receiver path is blocked
The amplified sound of the hearing aid is usually transported either through thin tubes (BTE models) or a wire (in RIC models) to your ear canal. At the end of this path, there could be a silicon dome or a price of electronic that is called a receiver (simply a micro-speaker). In either case, the outlet of the sound could easily be blocked by ear wax. The symptom of such a problem is that one hearing aid has poor or no output. The BTE models can be quickly troubleshot by disconnecting the thin tube and testing to see if the aid still makes any sound, if it did then there is a high chance that the thin tube needs cleaning or replacement.
Solution: Make a visual check to see if there is any ear wax trapped in the thin tune of your BTE, or in the tip of the receiver where there is a white little wax guard. Clean the thin tube (BTE) or replace the wax guard (RIC/ITE/CIC/ITC). Contact your audiologist for a service for your hearing aids if they are RIC or ITE/CIC/ITC.
4. Microphones are blocked
All the hearing aids have a very tiny slot that sound reaches their microphones. This slot could be packed with dust or dead skin or dandruff. One of the purposes of the little brush you received when you bought your new hearing aids is to brush over the entrance of the sound to the microphones at least once a week to make sure that the entry of the sound to them is clear and open. Failure of such a routine would result in blockage of the microphone inlet and logically there is no sound in for the hearing aid to amplify.
Solution: Locate the entry of the sound to the microphones of your hearing aids and clean them weekly.
5. Your hearing has deteriorated
Over time our hearing deteriorates. Other illnesses such as high blood pressure, gout, strong antibiotics, high blood sugar, and cancer treatment (especially with chemotherapy), and so could accelerate the deterioration of our auditory system, My clinical advice is to test your hearing every 12-18 months if you use hearing aids to be aware of sudden or gradual changes in the health of your hearing. If your hearing aids used to sound great but over the span of 12-18 months you feel that they don't sound loud and clear as before you might need a fresh hearing test. A reprogramming (or readjustment) of your hearing aids is what your audiologist would do right after the hearing test to bring up the volumes of your hearing aids to your new thresholds.
Solution: Contact your audiologist for a fresh hearing test.