Updated: Mar 29
The sudden death of hearing aids is not common for people with hearing loss. But, it can happen. Your hearing aids can stop working when you are running, or while you are gardening on a summer day. Why did your hearing aids suddenly die and what to do to bring them back to life?
When you look at a hearing aid in its basic function it might be easier to troubleshoot a sudden death of a hearing aid. They are a piece of electronics. They have a microphone to receive the sound around you, and a speaker (ironically called a receiver) that provides the amplified sound to your eardrum.
Now let's look at the top-5 reasons that could result in the sudden death of a hearing aid.
The battery is dead - The usual suspicion of any electronic device is that the source of energy is disconnected or depleted. In the case of hearing aids the battery could be dead and hence needs replacement. It is the same in the case of rechargeable hearing aids. They might need recharging. Almost all digital hearing aids present a signal to the wearer when the battery level is below 10-15% of a full charge so the user has time to replace them or put the hearing aids in the unit to recharge. You could have missed the Battery-Low signal. Another problem that batter could cause is that the electrodes that connect to the battery when you close the battery door started having an intermittent connection that could result in the hearing aid seeming dead, or keep rebooting. In the case of rechargeable hearing aids, those with electrodes (two charging electrodes at the end tail of the hearing aid) may have lost the quality (or oxidised due to humidity, e.g. for users living at the shorelines). Cleaning the electrodes on the hearing aid and inside the battery and charging the unit with alcohol or a plastic rubber could remove the oxidised layer and get a clean shiny surface that can make good charging contact with the hearing aid. Our advice is to consider hearing aids with induction charging technology to avoid this problem.
Condensate - If you sweat a lot then the receiver or the thin tube of your hearing aids could be blocked by condensate. It doesn't take too much to block the receiver or the thin tube of your hearing aids and give it a sudden stop. A similar situation that could cause excessive moisture and could create condensation in your hearing aids could be:
while doing exercise (almost everybody makes more sweating when doing exercise)
while getting in and out of a steam room, walk-in freezers, kitchen or working in environments with different temperatures e.g. cold and humid environments
Ear Wax - Blockage of the receiver of a RIC hearing aid or the outlet of the thin tube is usually gradual, but it can also be sudden. Extreme cases are when you are working outside on a sunny day, or in extreme sports that create body heat. In all these cases the higher temperature could soften the ear wax and help it move and block the receiver or the thin tube. In such a case, inspect the thin tube or the receiver. You can clean or replace the wax guard of the receiver. If you see a lot of ear wax accumulation in the tube of your earmould or the thin tube you could disconnect the thin tube or the tube and the earmould from the hearing aid, then put the thin tube in warm water for 3-5 minutes. Remove the tube and blow in it from the side that connects to the hearing aid. This should clean up the trapped ear wax in the tube. If still blocked contact your audiologist to replace it for you.
Moisture, dew or debris in/on the microphone - Walking in and out of an environment with a big difference in temperature and humidity can create moisture (dew) on the microphone inlet (and even inside) of your hearing aid. Most of the hearing aids these days are rated at IP68 (or at least IP67) which means that they are water and dust-tight however, walking out of an air-conditioned room in Houston or Miami on a summer day could immediately form moisture on the outer surface of the hearing aid blocking its microphone (the same can happen to your glasses). Gently clean the hearing aid with a piece of soft tissue and it should do the magic.
Electronic malfunction - Just like your fridge or your television, hearing aids could stop working because of an electronic malfunction. If you have checked the hearing aids and the case is not any of the items 1 to 4 above, then the sudden death of your hearing aid could be due to electronic malfunction. Contact your audiologist and hopefully, your aids are still under warranty.