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4 Reasons Hearing Aids Don't Work

“These hearing aids aren't worth a darn!” I have heard this a few times from patients of other practices as well as from friends whose family purchased hearing aids at another practice. So why are so many users unsatisfied or under satisfied with their hearing aids? Read on to find the four most common reasons hearing aids don’t work.

Improper Volume Settings

One of the most important aspects of a hearing aid fitting is that the volume must be set appropriately for loud, average, and soft sounds. Numerous patients from other practices have come into our office thinking they are going to need new hearing aids and all they really need is to have their hearing retested and their settings set appropriately for their hearing loss. If you aren’t hearing as well as you should, it may be how your hearing aids are set rather than the device itself.


As a hearing care professional, earwax is the bane of my existence. If a patient has been hearing well but is now having trouble with their hearing aids, it may be that there is a physical problem with the amplification. The most common hearing aid problem is an impacted receiver (speaker). What is the hearing aid impacted with? You guessed it - earwax! Earwax or (cerumen) is perfectly normal, and it is not a sign of neglected hygiene. However, for those who produce large amounts of earwax, they will have to be vigilant in cleaning their hearing aids daily.


Moisture can get into hearing aids a number of ways: accidentally jumping in the shower or a pool with the hearing aids, sweating profusely, or even excessive condensation from temperature changes through your day. Moisture is another big problem for hearing aid users although, unlike earwax, it can affect the entire hearing aid. Moisture problems can cause the sound to come and go, the hearing aid to make a motor noise, or cause the entire device to cease functioning. We recommend that all hearing aid wearers use a drying jar at night and clean their hearing aids daily.

Low Use

This is probably the most common reason hearing aids don't work. According to the research it takes the average patient 6 months to fully acclimatize to amplification. So if a hearing aid wearer only wears their hearing aids to church, or for a few hours each day, they will never get the full benefit from them. Consistently using your hearing aids, for at least 8 hours each day, is key to enjoying the restored sounds and speech you have been missing.

Statistics and research mentioned are taken from the Better Hearing Institute. BHI is a not-for-profit corporation that educates the public about the neglected problem of hearing loss and what can be done about it. Find them at www.betterhearing.org.

Article Written By

Caleb Rhodes, HIS

Caleb Rhodes studied at Western Kentucky Technical and Community College and Parkland College in Champaign Illinois with a focus on hearing instrument sciences. He began assisting the hearing impaired in 2003 and is licensed as a hearing instrument specialist in Kentucky and Illinois.