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With my hearing aids, my voice echoes and I hear a booming nasal sound when I talk or eat. Is there any solution?

Jasmine Burrington, AuD

Clinical Doctor of Audiology

03 September 2019 - 1.93K Views

Often this can happen with hearing aids that are all in-the-ear. The main reason is the occlusion effect, which happens when you have something filling your ear canal. This creates a secondary vibration in the ear canal that can sound like a "head in the barrel" effect. Ways this can be improved are by opening the venting in the hearing aid or even changing to a more open fit hearing device (Behind the ear and receiver in ear devices can minimize this occlusion effect). You can speak with your hearing care professional to let them know you are experiencing this, and they will work to minimize this effect for you. 
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Audiologist in Los Gatos

03 September 2019 - 1.93K Views

These issues may be due to a vent size that is too small in your Virto B90. I would check in with your hearing healthcare provider and explain these issues that you are having and ask if perhaps the vents need to be made larger. What you are experiencing is too many low frequencies (bass sounds) being trapped within your ear canal. As the vent size becomes larger, some of these bass sounds will bleed out to help offset the "occlusion" effect that you are likely experiencing. 
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Doctor of Audiology in Kailua

03 September 2019 - 1.89K Views

What you are describing is very common. The root cause of this issue is the occlusion of the cartilaginous outer part of the ear canal. When the ear canal is occluded lot of the low frequency energy components of your own voice, and other sounds produced in the mouth (like chewing), are not able to escape like they normally would through the opening to the ear canal, and a greater amount of low-frequency acoustic energy will reach the eardrum.

To my knowledge, Signia is the only manufacturer which has actually implemented a technological solution which addresses this problem without causing negative knock-on effects. The technology is called Own Voice Processing. During fitting, the hearing aids are trained to recognize the wearer's own voice, and then it is de-emphasized during routine use. At this time it is only available in their Receiver-in-the-canal hearing aids, such as the Pure 312 Nx. So if you need to wear a custom ITE hearing aid, this would not help you.

To be clear, open fittings and other occlusion reduction strategies will have knock-on effects which will usually result in poorer speech intelligibility.

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Dr. Elly Pourasef, AuD

Hearing Healthcare Provider / Audiologist

03 September 2019 - 1.92K Views

This is one of the main reason I personally don't care for custom hearing aids, and I think most audiologists will agree. If you have normal or near normal low frequency hearing unfortunately this is something you will have to either get used to or consider getting RIC (receiver in the canal) hearing aids with the tiny piece that goes into your canal and the aid behind your ear so you don't feel occluded. If room they may be able to make the vent bigger, but that just depends. Talk to your provider to get your options and be open to trying the RIC if you don't find that any adjustments help. Most patients much prefer RIC's over custom aids as far as replicating natural sound. -Dr. Elly Pourasef
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Mark Butler, AAS

Hearing Healthcare Provider

03 September 2019 - 1.93K Views

You didn't mention what type of hearing loss you have.  If your lower frequencies are near or in the normal range an in-the-ear hearing aid is not usually the best choice.  RIC style hearing aids that fit behind the ear with an open style dome that fits in the ear should give you a more natural sound.  The size of the vent will make a difference and some of the occlusion effect can also be programmed out.  If you do have low frequency loss an in-the-ear hearing aid may be appropriate.  There are also other reasons why you might have to go with the custom in-the-ear hearing aid.  Phonak makes the Virto B90 in a titanium shell which will help reduce occlusion.  Ask your provider to switch you to the Titanium version (or a RIC style).
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Audiologist in Hickory

10 September 2019 - 1.84K Views

I would first contact your hearing specialist and setup an appointment. Explain to them the issues you are having. They will be glad to set down with you and make the needed adjustments either in the programming or possibly the ear piece. There are may things that can be done to eliminate or listen the plugged feeling. It may take experimenting in the office but can be done easily. 

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Sheri Gostomelsky, AuD

Doctor of Audiology

04 September 2019 - 1.88K Views

Hearing aids will change the way you sound just by putting them in your ears. However, voice related issues can be corrected  by changing or modifying the earpiece you are using or by changing way the hearing aids are adjusted. 

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Leslie Papel, AuD

Doctor of Audiology

03 September 2019 - 1.91K Views

Yes, hearing one's own voice in an unusual way is not uncommon. Your audiologist is able to program some of those "undesirable" sounds out, but continual wear of the hearing aids will allow you to adjust to hearing your own voice again. The sense of nasality and echoing often signals that the hearing aids are cutting out too many outside sound that usually are naturally going into your ear canal. If you pull the hearing aid out slightly, does it still sound echo-y? If it is less, then the audiologist can adjust the shape of the shell to better accommodate you.

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Terry Sokalofsky, MSc


03 September 2019 - 1.92K Views

An "echo" in your own voice is usually due to one of two things - occlusion or ampclusion. Occlusion, as others have mentioned, is the result of the hearing aid "occluding" too much of your ear canal relative to your hearing loss. This can be improved/resolved by opening up the venting of the part of the hearing aid that is in your ear (i.e. dome, earmold, or the physical shell of an in the ear hearing aid). Ampclusion occurs when we amplify more sound than what someone is accustomed to, and typically will go away with time - but the best way to resolve this is by starting the hearing aid user off at a lower setting and then slowly increasing the volume of the hearing aids until we get to their hearing loss prescription. In this case, the auditory system needs time to acclimatize to more stimulation. 

The individual who fit your hearing aids should be able to determine if this is occlusion or ampclusion fairly easily if they fit the hearing aids properly - either way it is something that can be improved. Real ear measurements can also be very helpful for measuring occlusion (as well being an essential part of the hearing aid fitting in general).

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