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Hearing Aid Repairs

Contributed by , associate editor

Hearing aids are incredibly tiny pieces of technology. Despite their small size, they contain a lot of high-level equipment and perform advanced functions. In the event an individual suspects a hearing aid needs repaired, there are a few common steps to follow before contacting a hearing healthcare professional.

Keep your hearing aid clean

Because hearing aids are such compact devices, it can be easy for ear wax and other debris to become trapped in tiny holes and spaces. To avoid excessive build-up from clogging microphone and sound ports, it’s important to clean the device off each day with a clean and dry tissue or cloth.

It is common for earwax to become trapped in the small ports of a hearing aid device, this can cause temporary static sounds or feedback to be heard when in use. 

Keep your ears clean

In addition to keeping the hearing device itself clean, it’s important for hearing aid users to keep their ears clean. Keeping the device and ears free of debris can lessen the need for frequent hearing aid repairs. Earwax is a completely natural and necessary secretion of the ears, but it can cause trouble with hearing devices if it becomes lodged in ports or crevices of the aid. To keep earwax at a minimum, individuals can gently clean ears with a washcloth daily.

If you suspect the amount of wax is out of the normal range or your hearing devices are becoming clogged on a consistent basis, reach out to your hearing healthcare professional for additional tips or options.

Keep in mind it’s not safe to insert cotton swabs or anything sharp in your ears to clean them. Using these items could push the earwax deeper into the ear or puncture the eardrum.

Keep hearing aids dry

According to the Better Hearing Institute, prolonged exposure to or excessive amounts of moisture is the leading cause of repair in hearing aids. Most individuals don’t realize how much moisture the hearing aid can accumulate over daily use of the device. When putting your device up for the night, it’s advised to open the battery compartment and remove the batteries each night to allow it time to air out. If heavy perspiration is an issue, it might be wise to invest in a hearing aid sleeve or sweatband.

Another tool to help keep devices dry is a hearing aid dehumidifier. These inexpensive devices can help keep moisture to a minimum and can possibly prolong the life of hearing aids.

It’s no secret that technology and water don’t mix, so hearing aid users should follow standard precautions when showering, washing their face, applying hair sprays, gels and creams, or when swimming or participating in water activities.

Hearing aid users should opt to wash and shower either before they’ve turned on and placed their device in their ear for the day or at nighttime when allowing it to rest.

Troubleshoot common issues

While hearing aids are comprised of incredibly tiny, intricate and complex pieces, there are a few actions a hearing device wearer can take to troubleshoot any possible issues they might be having.

In the event a hearing aid doesn’t appear to be functioning properly, the following steps may be completed before calling a hearing healthcare professional:

  • Check to ensure the hearing aid is turned on: this seems simple, but when hearing aid users begin wearing the device it can take up to a month to become accustomed and develop a routine.
  • Try turning up the volume: hearing aids have numerous features and settings, some of these include volume control. A person who suspects their hearing aid isn’t properly working should check the volume to make sure it’s at the appropriate level and wasn’t accidentally turned down or altered.
  • Check the battery: it’s good practice to remove batteries at night to allow moisture to evaporate and to clean dust out of the compartment, hearing aid users should ensure they’ve placed the batteries correctly into their device. If placement is correct, the user could also try swapping out the old batteries for new ones in the event they were out of power.
  • If a BTE (behind-the-ear) model, inspect the tubing: throughout use, tubing can sometimes become damaged or worn. If hearing aid tubing shows any signs of wear and tear or breakage, it might be something as simple as having it replaced by your hearing healthcare professional.

When to contact your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser

If you follow good cleaning and maintenance practices and have completed the above troubleshooting tips, and your hearing aid is still malfunctioning, it might be a good idea to contact your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser.

Healthy Hearing Tip
If your hearing aids appear to be burning through battery life too quickly this could warrant repairs! 

Also, if the user begins hearing an increased amount of static or feedback, finds the volume is going in and out or experiences any other general interference it would be a good time to take the aid into the hearing center for diagnosis.

If a user has recently been fitted with a new hearing device and is noticing any feedback or whistling, it could mean there is an improper fit with the aid. There are changes made to the ear canal over time which can cause hearing aids to have a less-tight fit, these types of problems can cause issues with the device.

In addition, if the internal tubing has become dislodged, the vent develops a hole or any cracks are noticed on the faceplate of the aid, the user should contact a hearing healthcare professional immediately. A hearing practitioner will be able to discuss options for repair and how much time it will take. Some professionals can make simple repairs themselves, while more severe damages might need to be sent out to the manufacturer for repair.

In the event the aid has suffered irreversible damage, it is possible the hearing healthcare provider will discuss the option of replacing the device and getting a new one. If the user fears this might be the case, they should make an appointment with their audiologist to discuss viable options.

References

  1. Care and Maintenance of Hearing Aids, Better Hearing Institute, http://www.betterhearing.org/pdfs/e-Guides/eGuide_Care_Maintenance_Hearing_Aids.pdf
  2. Caring for your Hearing Aid, Hopkins Hearing, http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/hearing/hearing_aids/caring_for_hearing_aids.html

This content was last reviewed on: July 15th, 2014

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