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Coughing From Hearing Aids?

The original question was submitted by an audiologist (to Audiology Online) and is summarized here.

The answer was prepared by Douglas Beck, Au. D, and Wesley Krueger , MD

Dr. Beck responds:

This is a clinical event that occurs on rare occasion, and unfortunately, there is no ''quick fix'' that works consistently. I think the approach you attempted (tapering and shortening the canal potion of the aid) was the correct place to start. My only additional thoughts would be to try the following to see if one proves to be a clear ''winner.'' First, open the vent a little. Second, reduce low frequency gain. Third if possible, increase the compression point for the low frequencies.

Of course, there could be a ''real'' medical issue occurring too. Therefore, we have asked Dr. Wes Krueger, otolaryngologist, to review the question and offer his insight.

Dr. Krueger responds:

There is no easy solution to the problem, assuming the physical attributes of the hearing aid have been addressed. While cleaning the ear canal, many patients cough or have an urge to cough. This occurs due to the nerve innervation in the ear canal which originates from a division of the Vagus Nerve (Arnold's Nerve).

Regarding medical and surgical solutions to this problem, the type and degree of hearing loss is an issue, as is the amount of difficulty the patient is dealing with, as is the patient's desire to solve the problem.

However, the ear canal can be injected with a numbing agent and if this eliminates the cough one could consider surgical modification of the ear canal, called a canalplasty. This would take about 30 minutes in the operating room under general anesthesia.

Another option, depending on the type and degree of hearing loss, is to consider an implantable middle ear hearing aid. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MIDDLE EAR IMPLANTS.

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