Summer is approaching quickly which means broken hearing aids will be on the rise. Since the worst enemy of hearing aids is moisture and dirt, you should take extra precautions with increased outdoor activities.
One of the best things you can do is get a Dry-Aid kit to store your hearing aid in at night. This will remove most of the sweat and humidity that accumulate in the hearing aid during the day which can cause the delicate components to corrode and eventually break.
Another important step in preventing hearing aids from breaking in the summer months, as well as the rest of the year, is to routinely visit your local hearing professional to have your ears cleaned.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can check out some of our posts on DIY hearing aid repair here on Repair-Your-Hearing-Aid.com to see if it’s a simple problem with your hearing aid that you can fix at home.
To a long and healthy life for your hearing aids!
Article taken with permission from healthandhearingloss.com
When your hearing aid whistles it can not only degrade the quality and clarity of your instruments sound, but it can be very embarrassing!
Before we talk about how to fix feedback, let me quickly go over a few things that might cause your hearing aid to whistle:
Causes of Feedback
- Wax – a blockage of earwax in the ear canal can reflect the sound back to the mic, causing feedback
- Aid is Pointed Wrong – If the mold is pointed incorrectly the sound can bounce back to the mic
- Broken Speaker Tubing – The speaker tube is damaged or disconnected from the mold
- Loose Fit – Hearing aid mold is too loose allowing excessive sound to escape from the ear to the mic
- Improper Component Placement – Speaker or microphone is touching another internal component
- Hearing Aid Style – Amplification needs for hearing loss are outside your hearing aids fitting range
Diagnosing the Problem
Step 1 – Wax
The first step is check with your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser for earwax that may be causing the feedback. If not, then we can start diagnosing
Step 2 – Speaker Tube Check
Begin by examining the end of the hearing aid closely to see if the speaker tubing has been dislodged from the mold.
If the speaker tubing has fallen inside the hearing aid mold, then it should be taken to your local dealer for repair, or sent to the hearing aid repair shop of your choice.
If everything looks okay, then move on to step 3.
Step 3 – Internal Feedback Check
This step may require someone without a hearing loss.
Hold the hearing aid turned on with the volume up, being careful not to cover the microphone. Place your finger over the speaker (at the tip that is inserted into your ear). Push tightly for a good seal. If you or a helper can hear the aid whistling with the speaker covered, then there is probably an issue inside the hearing aid causing internal feedback. This could be two internal components touching, a whole in the vent, or the speaker could have fallen off of the tubing inside the aid.
Again, this should be taken in for repair.
If everything checks out fine, continue to step 4.
Step 4 – Fit Check
Now it’s time to test for a fit issue, which is something that many times can be fixed at home.
Test for a fit problem by pushing on the hearing aid with your finger or a pencil eraser while it is in your ear. Make sure you don’t cover the microphone when you do this.
If the feedback stops and you can still hear with your aid while the whistling is gone, then it is most likely a fit issue.
Fixing The Issue – Fit Problem
The Vent Plug Fix
If it is a minor fit issue, plugging the vent with putty or tape will sometimes stop the whistling. The vent is the air tube that runs from the outside of the hearing aid all the way through to the tip. You should see one vent hole at the bottom near the battery compartment (not the mic!) and the other side comes out on the tip, right beside the speaker hole.
Place some sticky tack or tape over the outside end of the vent. You should avoid placing on the side by the speaker as the plug could come off the aid in your ear.
If this does the trick, then you’re done, although it could again become an issue as your ear continues to change.
Note: although most hearing aids have a vent, some do not.
Comply Soft Wraps
There are foam wraps for hearing aids that can stop feed back from a loose fitting mold. Just go to google.com and search for “comply soft wraps” to find an online retailer, or click this link that will automatically search Google for Comply Soft Wraps.
Just wrap the foam around the hearing aid and you’re done. The wraps should come with detailed instructions.
Polishing Things Up – The Fingernail Polish Fix
If the hearing aid is loose, a coat of clear (or colorful!) fingernail polish can tighten it up enough to stop the feedback.
Start by cleaning the hearing aid with a dry tissue, or a tissue slightly dampened with rubbing alcohol to remove and dirt or oils from the hearing aid.
After cleaning the hearing aid, apply a thin coat of fingernail polish around the canal (Make sure you stay away from the components like the speaker, mic, volume control, and battery door!). Start with a very light coat – it usually doesn’t take much.
Once the fingernail polish has completely dried give the hearing a try. If the feedback has stopped, you just repaired your hearing aid! If feedback is still present, repeat with another thin coat of fingernail polish.
Taking a Bite Out of Feedback – The Denture Strip Fix
One not-so-pretty, but effective feedback fix is denture adhesive strips. Simply take a piece of the strip and mold it around the aid for an extra seal. They can be easily removed later.
Starting Fresh – The New Mold Fix
If none of these work for you, or you just aren’t comfortable making some of these modifications to your hearing aids, the best option may just be to start fresh. Have your local audiologist or hearing aid dispenser take a new impression of your ears and put a new shell on your hearing aid.
If they tell you that your hearing aids are too old and try to sell you new ones, you can find your own hearing aid repair shop that is willing to work on all hearing aids. We recommend Hearing Haven for hearing aid repair, but you can also go to Google and search for “hearing aid repair”.
If your “in the ear” hearing aid is dead, the first step is always to replace the battery, just to make sure it isn’t a bad battery.
Next, you will want to make sure hearing aid isn’t plugged with wax or debris.
Start out by visually inspecting the tip of the earmold – the part that is first inserted into your ear. If there is a visual blockage, use your earwax cleaning loop to remove the wax. Hold the tip angled down to avoid any earwax or debris falling into the receiver (speaker). Insert the loop at the edges of the tube and pull it out.
If there is no visual blockage, or you have already tried cleaning the tubing, open the hearing aid’s battery compartment and inspect the battery contacts on the inside edges. You should see two gold battery contacts, one on either side. They usually look like an arch with a thin arm connected to one side, and positioned horizontally through the middle. The arms can get bent sometimes, to the point where they no longer touch the battery.
Using your wax loop again, you can gently pull the horizontal arms inward, toward where the battery will go. Place the loop behind the tip of the arm on the end that is not connected to the arch. Now gently pull it inwards, toward the battery compartment.
Don’t pull too much, just enough to ensure contact with the battery without blocking it from closing properly. Repeat this process on the opposite side battery contact as well.
If your hearing aid still does not function after these steps it may be time for a professional hearing aid repair lab.
If your behind the ear hearing aid is dead or weak, the first step is always to replace the battery, just to make sure it isn’t a bad battery.
Next, you will want to make sure hearing aid isn’t plugged with wax or debris.
Start out by visually inspecting the end of the mold, the tube, and the earhook. If there is a visual blockage, clean with compressed air or BTE floss and see if it works.
If there is no visual blockage, or you have already tried cleaning the tubing, remove the earhook from the hearing aid. This is usually done by unscrewing it, although some models pull off. Refer to you hearing aids manual for instructions.
Once you have the earhook removed and a good battery inserted, turn the hearing aid on set to maximum volume.
Cup the hearing aid in your hand and listen for feedback. This may require someone without a hearing loss. If you or an assistant can hear the hearing aid whistling (or whistling stronger in the case of a weak hearing aid), replace the earhook and earmold and cup the aid in your hand again with it turned to full volume.
If you cannot hear the feedback (or not as strongly for a weak diagnosis) with the earmold and earhook attached, try removing the earmold. If there is feedback with the earmold removed and the earhook attached, or if the strength of the feedback increases, then there is something obstructing the sound in the tubing or earmold. A good cleaning with compressed air through the tubing or BTE floss should do the trick.
If there is still no improvement with only the earhook attached, then the obstruction is in the earhook. It may be as simple as cleaning the earhook, but some behind the ear hearing aids have an acoustic filter built in.
The acoustic filter may be in the tip of the earhook where the earmold connects, or further up, inside the ear hook.
If the filter is on the tip, it is usually a metal screen. You can first try cleaning the screen by soaking the earhook in rubbing alcohol for 15 minutes and then drying it with compressed air. If this does not work you can poke a hole in the screen with a needle.
This will allow the sound to go through, but will also slightly increase the high pitch frequencies. This shouldn’t be a problem unless your earmold doesn’t fit well; in this case it is possible that it could cause feedback.
If your earhook has a filter further up inside it made from cotton or plastic, you can remove the filter by pushing it out with a piece of fishing string. Like poking a hole through the metal filters, this also slightly increases the high frequencies and may cause feedback if your earmold does not fit correctly.
If you have tried all of these options, and your hearing aid is still dead or weak, it may be time to try a professional hearing aid repair lab.