How to Check If Your Hearing Aid Is Working Correctly

Hearing loss is one of the most challenging physical conditions — unable to experience sound, affected persons have trouble communicating, which impacts their mental and emotional well-being, relationships, and quality of life.

With the invention of hearing aids and their smart new features, hearing loss can be restored, allowing the wearer to experience sounds and communicate effectively again.

Is your hearing aid functioning properly?

Your ability to hear better, join conversations, and experience different sounds is heavily dependent on the condition of your hearing aids. Without proper care, programming, fitting, and troubleshooting at the first sign of malfunction or reduced effectiveness, you could quickly return to a lower quality of life.

You wear — and need — your hearing aids every day, so it’s important to learn how to tell when they’re not working correctly, so you don’t miss out on everything they’re supposed to help you with.

Common Hearing Aid Problems

The most common hearing aid problems are no sound produced, decreased volume and sound quality, distorted sound quality, and whistling or feedback sounds. Learning how to detect these issues and developing a habit for regularly checking if your hearing aids are working correctly allows you to troubleshoot them quickly, or ask a hearing aid practitioner right away:

There’s No Sound from My Hearing Aids

There’s no issue more alarming or pressing than hearing aids that don’t produce sound. But don’t fret just yet — a lot of these instances have simple fixes.

  1. Clean earwax build-up

    For one, significant earwax build-up can block sound from the microphone opening and sound outlet. Earwax build-up causes temporary hearing loss — essentially feeling like the condition is worsening. If you lose sound in your hearing aids, check for earwax debris blocking the microphone opening and sound outlet.

  2. Check the batteries

    Make sure that your hearing aids are turned on, and the batteries are correctly placed. Your hearing aid usually turns on once the battery doors are closed; if you have trouble closing them, it means the battery is placed upside down. Try removing the battery, flipping it out, and reinserting it correctly. If this doesn’t work, it could indicate low or dead batteries, which need to be replaced.

  3. Check the volume

    Are your hearing aids really not transmitting sound or the volume just needs to be turned up? In some cases, you just need to adjust the volume and turn it up, or toggle between programs or memories for optimal volume and noise cancellation settings across listening situations.

Ask Your Hearing Aid Provider if There’s Still No Sound

If none of these quick troubleshooting steps restore sound transmission, your hearing aid may be damaged. Call your hearing aid practitioner for further troubleshooting and hearing aid repair.

The Volume is Too Low

While it may be difficult to hear and keep up with loud and noisy settings, decreased volume or sound quality that persists in considerably less busy environments may indicate issues with your hearing aids.

  1. Clean earwax and check the settings

    Similar to when there’s no sound from your hearing aids, decreased volume and sound quality may be due to volume and program or memory settings and earwax blockage.

    Check the volume: try turning it up all the way and see whether the program was switched to a different one than usual. Ensure that the earmold and tubing are intact, and remove any built-up earwax debris that is physically blocking and muffling the sound.

Ask Your Hearing Aid Provider if Your Hearing has Declined

If the problem persists, consider the possibility that your hearing loss may have changed and your hearing aids may need to be reprogrammed.

Visit your local hearing healthcare provider for a hearing test to determine if it’s time to reprogram or replace your hearing aids to support your changing hearing loss.

Sound is Muffled or Distorted

The ability to hear sound alone is not enough — aside from volume, quality is key to effective listening, communication, and participation in various social settings and leisure. A muffled, distorted, or any other “funny” quality to the sound you’re hearing could indicate damaged hearing aids.

  1. Check for corroded batteries

    When was the last time you replaced your hearing aid batteries? Depending on your type of hearing aid and how often you use them, some batteries last longer than others, so much that they corrode over time. If this is the case, replace them right away and check if the sound has improved. As well, consider having the battery contacts cleaned by your hearing aid provider to restore optimal condition.

  2. Check volume and program settings

    A muffled or distorted sound quality could be due to low volume or a change in settings. For instance, a wireless setting designed for use with an assistive listening device may sound distorted in other settings, such as conversations. Toggle between programs or memories to make sure your hearing aids are set to the right one.

How long has it been since your hearing aid was tested?

When was the last time your hearing aid provider, like ours at Living Sounds, checked and serviced your hearing aids? If none of these troubleshooting steps work, consider the possibility that your hearing aids need a tune-up. Book an appointment right away for assistance and repair.

I Hear “Whistling” and Other Feedback

Whistling noises and feedback are disruptive in any listening situation — they cause discomfort and distractions that make it hard to focus on conversations, movies, and music, and effectively hear the world around you. These noises reduce sound quality and can even impact how you respond in various environments.

  1. Insert Properly

    A simple fix for feedback issues: take out and reinsert your hearing aids. It’s common to hear noises and feedback when hearing aids are not inserted properly. Keep in mind how the hearing aid practitioner taught you during your first fitting, and make sure that the aids are inserted back in properly every time.

  2. Turn down the volume

    Having the volume up doesn’t always equate to optimal hearing. When you hear feedback at high volumes, try turning them down. If the noises stop then, this indicates that sound was leaking out through the vent or around the earmould. Ask your hearing aid provider about adjusting the fit to create an airtight seal.

  3. Clean your ears

    Like in cases of reduced volume or no sound, earwax build-up can also cause whistling noises and feedback. Make sure to clean out debris from your hearing aids, and book a regular earwax removal with your hearing healthcare provider.

    This build-up causes feedback as a result of having to turn up the volume higher than normal to compensate for the blockage’s reduced sound quality and the sound itself bouncing off the blockage and leaking back out.

Ask Your Provider if Your Hearing Aids Still Fit

Inserting the hearing aids properly and removing built-up earwax will only work if your hearing aids are the right fit.

If you recently lost a significant amount of weight, the fit of your hearing aids may change, as with other essentials like clothing and accessories. You may need new earmoulds or have your hearing aids adjusted to ensure a snug fit that prevents sound from leaking out. Your hearing aid practitioner may also be able to tell if other factors cause feedback and noises and may recommend a factory repair to correct the damage.

To learn more about how to check if your hearing aid is working properly, call Living Sounds at 780-488-8100 or contact us here.