Hearing Aid Troubleshooting Guide

Hearing Aid and Battery Care

Here are a few things you can do to protect your hearing aid and extend its useful life:

  • Avoid High Temperatures
    Don't leave the hearing aid in direct sunlight, in a hot car, on a heater, or on any other piece of equipment that generates heat. Heat can damage the hearing aid amplifier and can cause batteries to deteriorate.
  • Avoid Moisture
    Keep the hearing aid dry. Even perspiration can cause damage to the hearing aid.
  • Protect the Aid from Hard Knocks
    Avoid dropping the hearing aid or bumping it against hard objects.
  • Removing the Aid
    Get into the habit of turning the switch to the "OFF" position before you take off the aid. When the switch is in the "ON" position, the battery is discharging whether the person is wearing the hearing aid or not. If the aid doesn't have an "OFF" switch, open the battery compartment so that the battery is not touching the battery contacts.
  • Repairs
    Do not attempt to repair the hearing aid. If the aid is not functioning properly, ask the audiologist or hearing aid dealer for assistance. Many times a loaner aid can be supplied by a hearing aid dispenser while the aid is being repaired.
  • Tubing and Cords
    For the behind-the-ear or eyeglass type of hearing aids, Sacramento, San Francisco and other Northern California residents should have the tubing replaced when it becomes dry, brittle, and yellow. If the patient has a body aid, the cord will eventually wear out or develop a short and need to be replaced. Avoid twisting the cord, and do not use safety pins to position the cord since the pin could inadvertently pierce the cord.

Earmold Care

  • Keep the earmold clean. If the opening becomes clogged with wax, clean it gently with a pipe cleaner.
  • At frequent intervals, the mold should be detached from the hearing aid and washed with soap and water. Do not wipe the hearing aid earmold with alcohol since it will cause the earmold to deteriorate.
  • Before connecting the cleansed earmold to the hearing aid, make sure that the earmold is completely dry since a drop of liquid may block the passage of sound, as well as damage the aid.

Battery Care

  • Keep several spare batteries handy, but be sure to buy several batteries at a time since they lose their strength as they age. If the battery comes with a sticker on the back of it, it will not begin to drain until the sticker is removed.
  • Store the batteries in a cool, dry place.
  • Wrap the batteries in plastic to avoid accidental contact with metal objects, if you'll be carrying the batteries in your pocket or handbag.
  • Removing batteries from the aid at night will not prolong battery life. Occasionally, a defective cell may leak and removing the battery daily will permit you to examine it and dispose of it before it damages the aid.
  • If the battery contacts in the aid become corroded, they should be cleaned by the hearing aid dealer or dispenser. Poor contacts can contribute to a loss of power and may result in a "frying" sound in the hearing aid.
  • If you notice a sudden decrease in battery life (determined by the frequency with which you replace batteries in the hearing aid), have the aid checked by the hearing aid dealer or dispenser. Excessive battery drain generally means a defective aid.
  • Remove dead batteries from the aid immediately, otherwise they may leak and cause damage to the hearing aid.
  • When you replace a battery, be sure the contacts of the battery match the markings on the battery compartment of the aid.

Common Problems and Solutions

The following is a list of some of the most common problems new hearing aid wearers face and a set of solutions that can be implemented. If you still cannot solve your hearing aid predicament after reading this set of guidelines, do not hesitate to call your Kaiser audiologist for assistance.

1) The hearing aid is not working or sound output is reduced or distorted:

  • Make sure the hearing aid is in the on. Depending on the style of hearing aid, this may be accomplished simply by closing the battery door, while other styles have switch that must be set into the “on” position.

  • Make sure the volume (not applicable on some models) is turned up.

  • Make sure that the T-coil program (designed for telephone use) is not activated. On some hearing aid models, the T-coil is controlled by pushing the control button into the “T” position. On many other styles, the telephone program is activated by pressing the small program button. A series of beeps indicates which program the hearing aid is in. If you are uncertain of the programming of your particular device, consult your audiologist for a reinstruction of your programming.

  • Inspect all openings of the hearing aid or earmold for debris or wax; clean if necessary.

  • Check the hearing aid or earmold and tubing for moisture build-up. If moisture is an ongoing concern, consider using a moisture removal (or desiccant) kit, available from your audiologist. Check tubing (BTE styles only) for cracks, slits, or holes. Replace if necessary. (Note: the plastic tubing on BTE aids needs to be replaced approximately every 9-12 months.)

  • Check that the battery is working:
    • Cup the hearing aid in the palm of your hand; if the aid squeals, the battery is working. While this may provide a quick battery test, a small battery testing device is a better verification of battery life. An inexpensive and wise investment for all hearing aid users, this instrument provides a simple and efficient means of testing the residual life of your batteries.

    • Make sure that the battery is the correct size and that it is inserted properly so that the positive (+) side of the battery matches that of the hearing aid. The battery should fit into place easily; if force is required, the battery is either the incorrect size or is being inserted upside down.

2) The hearing aid whistles (feedback):

Feedback occurs when amplified sound leaks from the hearing aid receiver back to the microphone where it is re-amplified.

  • Make sure the hearing aid or earmold is inserted snugly and correctly. (Note: over time, the hearing aid or earmold may lose its snug fit due to ear canal changes or growth. If your hearing aid no longer fits securely, contact your audiologist).

  • The volume may be set too high; turn volume down.

  • Check for any clothing that may be covering the hearing aid. (e.g., scarves, hats).

  • Make sure no hair is trapped between the hearing aid or earmold and the ear canal.

  • Check the hearing aid or earmold and tubing for moisture build-up or wax. If necessary, clean. (See #1 for advice on moisture build-up). For BTE styles, make sure that the hook and tubing are correctly and securely attached. Also, check the tubing for cracks, splits, or holes; make sure the tubing is not flat or twisted.

Jaw movements (e.g., chewing, yawning) can cause some feedback. Another possible cause for feedback is an over-accumulation of ear wax in the wearer's ear canal, causing the sound to be reflected back to the hearing aid's microphone. See your physician regularly for wax removal if this condition pertains to you.

3) The hearing aid does not work with the telephone:

  • If applicable, make sure the aid is in the “T” position or program.

  • For behind-the-ear style aids, place the telephone receiver up and over the ear so that the sound enters the hearing aid microphone as opposed to the earmold.

  • If your hearing aid does not have a “telephone” setting, do not allow the telephone to touch the hearing aid. Instead, hold the phone a few inches away from the hearing aid.

4) Short battery life:

  • When not wearing, store the hearing aid with the battery door open. A closed door continues to drain the battery, even if when not in use.

  • Store new batteries in a cool, dry place. (Avoid storing in the refrigerator, as moisture and condensation can adversely affect battery life).

  • If your hearing aid has an uncorrected feedback problem, this will cause excessive battery drain. (See #2).