Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful, and for those with hearing loss, panic can set in if a hearing aid malfunctions. If that happens, take a deep breath and try these troubleshooting tips to remedy the problem.
- Check the batteries. Even if the batteries seem to be working, replace them anyway. A fresh battery might make a big difference. Make sure your battery compartment is free of obstructions, corrosion, and the battery is placed in the correct position with the positive or plus side up.
- Earmolds used with behind-the-ear hearing aids must be clean. Check to make sure there isn’t any earwax or other debris inside the tubing or sound outlet. Use the cleaning tools that came with your aid (brush or wax loop) to remove debris. If the debris is deep in the tubing, remove the mold from the aid and soak it in warm water, then later blow any loosened debris or water droplets out through the tubing. Make sure the earmold is completely dry before reconnecting it to your hearing aid.
- If you are wearing a custom hearing aid (ITE, canal aid, CIC), clean the sound outlet and vent with the cleaning tools that came with your hearing aid (cleaning cloth, brush, wax loop, or vent cleaner). Do not clean your aid with water placed directly on your aid, but you can use a wet wipe so long as you stay away from the ports or openings.
- Wax filters or guards are usually found on today’s custom aids and some earmolds. These are removable and replaceable. Usually, you have received a package of extra wax guards with your new hearing aid or you can buy them online or from your audiologist or dispenser. Some smaller behind-the-ear hearing aids will have a small plastic piece, called a dome, found at the tip of the tubing that fits in your ear canal. If you have a supply, look at your user guide to show you how to replace it and get in the habit of changing it and the wax guard every month or two.
- Find the hearing aid’s microphone cover and gently clean it with your brush or cleaning cloth.
- If your hearing aids are producing feedback, decrease the volume, and check for distortion. If the noise goes away, it could possibly be sound leaking through the vent or around the earmold. If it doesn’t stop, check with your dispenser when you can. It could mean the aid is malfunctioning. Keep your ears as clean as possible since excess wax can cause feedback.
If all else fails, you have other options. There are a number of YouTube videos that will demonstrate how to clean your hearing aid, change the battery, or change the wax guard. Some hearing aid companies offer free troubleshooting advice, even if you haven’t purchased devices from them. You can also call an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser to see if someone can talk to you by phone or via video conference. Be sure to check any professional’s license to make sure it is valid and in good standing with the California Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board by visiting https://www.speechandhearing.ca.gov/.