In the June 2021 Consumer Reports, CR Insights provides a brief discussion on 3 Common Hearing Aid Problems and Fixes. I have encountered these same three topics several times each week with patients for thirty-five years. The three issues I will discuss with you are feedback or whistling in hearing aids, being confronted with background noise, and battery life.
1. Feedback (Whistling) from the Hearing Aid
Feedback is whistling emitted from a hearing aid. It may be caused by a host of things. The most common is impacted earwax in the patient’s ear canal. The sound exits the hearing aid receiver, is blocked by the wax, escapes the canal through the vent, and travels back to the microphone where the sound is recycled through the aid.
An old earmold does not fit as tight as it should and can cause feedback in the same manner. When the device is improperly installed in the ear, feedback will occur and this ill-fitting aid will now cause a sore ear. In addition, an internal malfunction, cupped hand over the aided ear, placing and pressing the telephone on the ear, and having the volume control placed at a high level will all induce feedback.
2. Background Noise
Hearing background noise is a primary concern to most all new patient wearers. Most state they do not wish to hear noise and prefer it be eliminated. No amplification from any manufacturer eliminates noise.
Digital hearing aids can reduce or squeeze down on the noise so the patient can hear speech more clearly. Noise can be a warning signal and is part of your environment. People with normal hearing recognize and hear the noise but mentally tune it out.
3. Battery Life
When a new patient-user wears hearing aids, the ear uses binaural summation and an auditory adaptation process to become accustomed to the sound. With regular daily use, and in short order, that issue will subside. If the amplification of environmental noise interferes with understanding speech, the patient should see their private practice audiologist for an adjustment.
A watch battery will run for up to four years before it needs to be replaced. Hearing aid batteries will last anywhere from seven to fourteen days. This disparity is attributed to the hearing aid is an ear-worn computer called upon to maintain the integrity of the output based upon the patient’s hearing loss in all listening situations. A watch battery has one function and that is to make the hands go round and keep time.
To have an approximation as to battery life, place the sticker from the newly inserted battery on your calendar the day it is changed. Battery life is calculated in hours; consumers measure battery life in days. I advise patients to always check the expiration date on the battery pack before they purchase it. You are dependent upon a store clerk to rotate the stock to ensure the customer always gets the freshest batteries. Most times they do not. My experience is dispensing over 500 packages each month. The best battery I have found is Power One. For most others, you probably take your chances on how long they may last.
Every time the device is removed, open the battery door to save power. Rechargeable aids are a great new convenience for people with dexterity issues or those who prefer not to handle batteries. However, that sealed power seal will eventually not hold a charge as long. Just like an iPhone or Android smartphone. The recharge and use, recharge and use over time the enclosed battery cell will wear out and need to be replaced. This rechargeable aid needs to be shipped to the manufacturer for servicing. If the device is under warranty, no problem. If the device is out of warranty a flat rate repair will be charged and the whole aid needs to be shipped in.
The first step to better hearing health is to get your hearing checked. If you or anyone suspects or experiences hearing difficulty, contact a private practice audiologist to schedule an appointment to get the answers you need for a better quality of life.
Is Your Hearing as Good as You Think?
How often do you get your hearing checked? We get yearly physical exams, eye exams, regular automobile maintenance, but we neglect our hearing until things get really bad. Why wait? Get your hearing checked by a professional audiologist!