Troubleshooting Typical Hearing Aid Problems


While suffering from long-term hearing loss, hearing aids are one of the most common treatment options used today. People can customize many different kinds of hearing aids to enhance their hearing depending on the cause and extent of hearing loss they suffer from. If you are one of the millions of people who use hearing aids regularly, then you probably understand the necessity of rapidly discovering issues with your hearing aids and fixing the problem as soon as possible. 

Different problems with hearing aids

Here are a few of the most common hearing aids issues:

  • Not producing sound anymore
  • Sound unusual or distorted
  • Not loud enough for you to hear well
  • Producing a whistling sound, also known as feedback

If you are experiencing any of these issues, we have you covered with instructions on how to approach and solve each type of problem.

We provided you with checklists below for each issue, including the simplest solutions at the beginning of the checklists. It is very possible that you will run into problems that you are not able to fix yourself. At this point, it may be best to consult with your audiologist to figure out if you need to get the hearing aids repaired or even cleaned professionally. 

My hearing aids are not making any sound like they typically do

  1. Take a good look at the hearing aid. It may be the case that there is earwax on or around the microphone opening/sound outlet. Manual cleaning of this debris from the affected area can often ameliorate the problem. However, if you see physical damage to the hearing aid itself, be sure to contact your hearing healthcare provider.
  2. Check to see if the hearing aid is turned on. Also, hearing aids are often rechargeable and you could potentially be docking them incorrectly. If your hearing aids are battery-operated, be sure that you are inserting fully charged batteries correctly. You may struggle with closing the battery door, which indicates that the battery you are inserting is “upside down.” In this case, flip it over and try to re-insert the battery and close the battery door
  3. It may be time for a new battery. It is helpful to own a hearing aid battery tester to be sure that the old battery is completely dead. It is important when you insert a new hearing aid battery to remove the sticker and let the battery sit in the open air for a couple of minutes before inserting it. These batteries can be “air-activated,” which is why you ought to let them sit outside of the hearing aid before replacing the old battery completely.
  4. You may not be turning up the volume adequately. If your hearing aid is connected to an app, make sure you have the volume up all the way. Do the same thing if your hearing aid has manually operated volume control. You may have to adjust the manual wheel all the way up and down to be sure that it is on the highest setting. 
  5. If none of these solutions produce positive results, you may have broken your hearing aids from water exposure. Almost all brands of hearing aids are not fully waterproof, meaning that if they were submerged in water at all then there is a high chance they could be damaged extensively. Contact your hearing healthcare provider to seek assistance with repair.

My hearing aids sound unusual or distorted 

  1. If your hearing aid is charged by a disposable battery, there could be issues with corrosion of the battery contacts. Remove the disposable battery and check the metal prongs that come into contact with the battery. Try opening and closing the battery door several times and then replace the battery to see if the sound distortion is remedied. Be sure that the battery metal prongs have adequate contact with the battery. This is evident based on whether or not there are visible faint scratches on a used battery.  You may also need your hearing healthcare provider to assist with cleaning the battery contacts professionally. 
  2. As is the case with most hearing aid problems, it is important to check the program or memory setting. It is possible that you changed the program to a wireless setting that is only used with assistive listening devices. If you discover that this is the problem, return the setting to what you typically use and test out your hearing aid to see if they produce sound like they normally do. 
  3. Unusual sounding hearing aids can often indicate that there is damage to your hearing aids. In this situation, it is best to contact your hearing specialist, who may have walk-in hours or same-day appointments to assist you with hearing aid repair.

My hearing aids are more quiet than usual

  1. Similarly to the issue of your hearing aid not producing any sound, it may seem like some sound is physically blocked from reaching your ear. You may need to remove any earwax or debris that is covering the microphone opening or sound outlet. It is possible with behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids that there is something physically interfering with the tubing. Check the tubing for any blockages, cracks, or even moisture. You may need to find a replacement for the tubing and contact a hearing aid expert for assistance with this.
  2. It is important also to be sure that the volume is all the way up. Toggle the manual volume wheel or change the volume setting on a connected app to be sure that you did not accidentally turn the volume down. Check to see if you can actively hear the volume changing
  3. Try and see if the program was switched on your hearing aid. It is possible that you changed the setting to a program that you do not usually use.
  4. After checking all of the above troubleshoots, it may be time to re-check your hearing with a healthcare provider. There is a chance that over the course of time while using your hearing aids, your hearing may have declined some naturally. Schedule a hearing test with your hearing healthcare provider to see if you need to get your hearing aids adjusted.

My hearing aids are making an odd whistling sound

  1. If you notice an unfamiliar whistling sound while your hearing aid is in, it is possible that it is inserted in your ears incorrectly. Remove your hearing aid and try to re-insert it properly to be sure that this is not creating the whistling noise.
  2. Try turning the volume down on your hearing aid. The whistling sound may go away when you turn the volume down, which would indicate that there is an excessive amount of sound leaking from the vent or around your earmold. In this case, it may be a good idea to get your hearing aid re-fitted by your hearing specialist. 
  3. Your ear canals may have enough ear wax in them to block the sound from reaching your eardrums properly. Try and get your ear canals checked by a professional and see if you need them to be cleaned out adequately. Earwax blockage can be causing the whistling noise under a couple of circumstances. If you have to turn up the volume higher than you normally do, this could be a sign that there is earwax blockage that is causing more sound to leak out of your hearing aid than usual. Also, sound could be directly bouncing off ear wax in your ear canal and leaking out. 
  4. The fitting of your ear aid can change significantly if you lose or gain some weight over time. It is best to see your hearing specialist to find out if you can get your hearing aid readjusted. It is also possible that you may need to wait for a completely new hearing aid or earmold to be made
  5. It is possible if you wear a behind-the-ear style hearing aid that there is an issue with the tubing. Be sure to take a look at the tubing to make sure that it has not become cracked or damaged. Also make sure that the tubing is completely connected to the hearing aid. You can reach out to your hearing healthcare provider if do happen to need a tubing replacement.

Sometimes, you just need to call a professional

Though this advice on troubleshooting can be very helpful in saving you a trip to the audiologist, these tips are not always foolproof. If you have tried all of these tips to fix your hearing aids to no avail, it is probably best to reach out to your hearing specialist and make an appointment. It is possible that they can remedy the problem within the same day of your office visit, however sometimes your hearing aid may need to be repaired at a factory. If so, you can likely get a loaner hearing aid to use while yours is getting fixed. This will ensure that you are able to safely hear while as you wait for the return of your original broken hearing aid.