Why Do My Hearing Aids Echo?
So you just got new hearing aids and they sound like they have an echo. Maybe it sounds like you’re talking in a barrel, or like you have a head cold. Or maybe you’re now simply hearing your own voice too loudly, and it’s unbearable.
In the hearing aid world, this sensation is referred to as the occlusion effect.
If you are not the one suffering from this problem and are researching a solution for someone else, let me first try and describe this sensation. Take both of your index fingers, plug up your ears, and now talk. See how it sounds like you’re talking in a barrel? That is occlusion, and to some first time hearing aid wearers, that’s how they sound. All the time.
Many hearing aids give this occlusion feeling, and there are a few ways to reduce the echo.
- Adjust the size of the vent on the hearing aids. If you wear an in-the-ear hearing aid, or use a custom earmold with behind-the-ear hearing aids, it’s likely that you have a vent in your mold. This lets your ears breathe, and helps make things sound more natural. Often, increasing the size of this vent will greatly reduce the echo. This is something many hearing providers can do in their office, but if not, the hearing aid manufacturer can do it. Fees may apply if you are outside of your warranty period.
- Have the hearing aids reprogrammed. Many times, the echo can be reduced by a few simple tweaks within the hearing aid programming software. Let your hearing provider know of the echo you are experiencing, and more than likely they can make a few adjustments that will greatly reduce it.
- Reduce the length of the canal on the earmold or hearing aid. Sometimes, simply reducing the length of the canal portion of the earmold or hearing aid will significantly reduce the sensation of echo. Other times, tapering the canal so it comes to more of a point will help as well. This is also something many hearing providers can do in their office, but if not, the hearing aid manufacturer can do it. If you’re curious if this might be your solution, give this a try- pull both of your hearing aids out of your ears very slightly. If the occlusion is reduced, chances are shortening the length of the canal will help you. Fees may apply if you are outside of your warranty period.
- Get the hearing aids remade. This should be a last resort. Sometimes, hearing aids just need to be remade with a new ear impression, and built slightly differently. Maybe they need to fit deeper in the ear canal, or perhaps more loosely in the canal. When all else fails, get a new impression taken and order a new hearing aid. This can often be done free of charge during your warranty period.
If the above solutions aren’t sufficient, it’s likely you need to either just get used to the echo, or switch to a different style of hearing aid. Your best bet at reducing the echo is trying a RIC (receiver-in-canal) style hearing aid. Familiarize yourselef with some of the benefits of RIC hearing aids, and strongly consider switching styles.
Almost all hearing aids have a bit of echo. The vast majority of people will get used to it within a short period of time. Sometimes what may feel like occlusion, isn’t occlusion at all, but merely the effect of improved hearing. For example, when a new hearing aid user has not heard their own voice at the appropriate volume level in a long time, they may complain that it sounds like an echo or their voice is too strong. In time, most people get used to this.
If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.