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6 Sep 2019

Common hearing aid problems and what to do about them

Don't give up on your hearing aids. Here's how to troubleshoot some typical issues

Getting used to hearing aids takes time. It's easy to get put off and think they won't work for you when you encounter some early problems.

We've looked at some common issues and ways you can solve them, to help you get over any niggling problems you might be having.

It's also important to choose a trusted retailer to buy your hearing aid from. The quality of service given by the provider can mean the difference between a good and bad hearing aid experience.

Fitting and adjusting a hearing aid perfectly can take a few appointments so a patient and attentive fitting service is crucial.

To increase your chances of getting the best hearing aid for you, take a look at our guide to the best hearing aid providers.

Hearing aid problems and how to fix them

1. My hearing aids aren't working as well as I hoped they would

You shouldn't expect miracles. Hearing aids can improve your quality of life and interaction with others, but unfortunately they can't completely restore your hearing to how it was originally.

Give it time though, as it can take around a month to get used to wearing them. This is because your brain will have adapted to your initial hearing loss.

If you're still struggling to hear, it could be that they're not set up properly.

It's worth contacting your audiologist for their advice, and you may find you need several visits to get the right hearing aids for you and ensure that they are correctly fitted, adjusted and programmed.

See our guide to getting used to hearing aids for more advice.

2. My hearing aids keep whistling

There are many causes of whistling or squeaking noises, which can be very annoying. These include:

  • the hearing aids not being inserted correctly in your ear
  • the volume being too high
  • excess ear wax or an infection.

Make an appointment with your audiologist and they should be able to identify the problem. They should also show you how to fit the aid correctly if you are struggling with this.

Good hearing aid practice, including storing and cleaning your hearing aids properly, and keeping them away from moisture, should also help you avoid issues. You should be given clear advice on how to do this when you get them.

3. My hearing aids are uncomfortable

This may be because you haven't fitted the hearing aids properly in your ear or your audiologist needs to make an adjustment. Arrange a follow-up appointment to get to the bottom of the issue.

4. My hearing aids are more visible than I expected

Hearing aids are becoming smaller and smarter-looking as well as lighter and more comfortable to wear. You can get less visible open-fit hearing aids on the NHS, depending on your individual hearing. You'll probably get a wider choice if you buy privately.

'Invisible' hearing aids are only suited to people with mild to moderate hearing loss. If your hearing loss is more severe, you're better off with a behind-the-ear model with ear moulds.

Learn more about the pros and cons of different types, and their typical cost, in our full guide to types of hearing aid.

Smart hearing aids: the future?

Recently, we've seen a number of high-profile smart hearing aid launches, as the powers that be in Silicon Valley turn their attention to 'health tech'. This is promising as many aim to engineer solutions to common hearing aid problems, such as issues with background noise, buzzing, whistling or distortion.

You can now buy hearing aids that connect to your smartphone to provide more control, such as being able to easily fine-tune settings to different environments.

Others use AI tech that automatically adapts to you, and learns from you as it goes. Some also offer remote expert support via the app if you're struggling with the settings.

See our story about the top hearing aid innovations of 2019 for more on the latest developments.

Getting used to hearing aids

Everything can sound loud and strange through hearing aids at first. That's why you should wear them as much as possible to adjust to the sound.

Action on Hearing Loss suggests starting off by wearing your hearing aids at home for a few hours a day. It also recommends wearing them while watching TV to help you adjust to hearing different sounds. In addition, practice listening to everyday noises like the kettle boiling or the fridge humming to get used to how they sound.

More advice can be found in the Action on Hearing Loss leaflet on adjusting your hearing aids.

Getting used to maintaining the hearing aids and inserting them into your ear can also take time. It's normal to need several visits your audiologist to get them perfectly fitted and programmed.

Not sure if you need a hearing aid? See our full guide to getting tested and choosing hearing aids.