Problems with noise level on Phonak hearing aids

Forgive me if this is an old, hackneyed topic - I am new to this game. Six weeks ago my local hospital issued me with two Phonak Nathos S+ micro hearing aids (BTE with moulded ear inserts). I was not impressed by the level of service, my appointment should have been for an hour but I was out of the door in less than half that time. There was no testing of the devices in my ears, virtually no advice on care and maintenance (I managed to get some info from the manufacturer’s website later), and one of the devices only seems to work intermittently.

The devices are large and pretty uncomfortable to wear for very long, but the main issue is the sheer noise which assaults my ears (although one device seems better than the other). The hearing aids seem to be set so sensitively that they pick up everything for yards around and it’s like World War 2 happening continuously. I defy anyone to ever get used to that series of squeaks, crackles and explosions. Also, the hearing aids are not adjustable (by myself), the volume is supposed to adjust itself to the ambient sound. Is that correct? Can the aids really not be re-set or adjusted in any way to suit an individual’s circumstances?!

It seems inevitable that I will have to return and get some adjustments carried out, but it would be helpful to hear other people’s experiences, so as to identify precisely what my problem might be. At present, the hearing aids are more or less useless, in the pub this evening I was able to converse comfortably with my friend WITHOUT the hearing aids - and without the Battle of Alamein thundering in my ears the whole time!

sounds pretty awful all round! can you return them and be fitted elsewhere? the fact that there was no testing of the devices in your ears sounds concerning to me and given the minimal service given at your first appointment I wouldn’t be holding your breath that this will suddenly improve at future appointments


You certainly have not been treated very well! I take it you are in the UK, as that is the only place you will get the Nathos. If they are the Micro, I don`t understand why you say they are large.

I have two Nathos S+ w SP BTE which are about the same size as my previous Naida`s. The Micro should be smaller, given the name.
I have a volume control on each, and I would not accept anything without.
There is no doubt you have cause to complain, and should try and get back as soon as you can. Unfortunately, audiologists tend to increase the very soft sounds, that make background sounds louder that the foreground which you want to hear. Ask to see a senior or clinical scientist. They should know what they are doing. Good luck!

Things will sound loud at first until your brain gets used to hearing things again.
The audiologist should of said to wear the HAs for a few hours a day and to build up your time over a number of weeks.
Your hearing aids are really not that big, here’s a comparison between your HAs and my HAs.

I appreciate greatly all your replies and images and yes I am in Hastings, UK. The local hospital gave me no info about the model of hearing aid they were giving me, I worked it out later, and I didn’t realise until I researched online that there is a whole world of hearing aid types available! My ones are indeed the Phonak Nathos S+ Micro - by large I meant that the moulded section going into the ear canal seems very big, is very uncomfortable and seems to be making my ear sore.

By comparison, a friend has given me an Oticon OPN 3 hearing aid (with a small dome insert and very comfortable) - she can afford to pass these things on! It is an utterly different experience. Obviously it is not programmed for my hearing but even so the quality of sound that I am hearing is very near to normal, very little loud background noise, and I was able this evening to have quite a decent conversation with my friends in the pub. A local independent hearing aid centre is willing to give me a test and programme the hearing aid to suit my circumstances, so that is an option open to me if all else fails.

However, I am aggrieved that I seem to have received a very peremptory service from the audiologists and no follow-up checks are scheduled for another six months! I think that I will have to confer with my doctor and then return to the hospital to remonstrate with them. If the poor old NHS cannot afford a device with a volume control, surely they can at least carry out some tests and adjust the settings to make the hearing aids more comfortable for me - at present they are more or less unusable.

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Well, a follow-up to my earlier moans (a very rushed appointment with no testing being done and being given extremely noisy hearing aids).

I made some complaints and the hearing aids have been completely re-programmed with the control button re-activated so as to give me a choice of three different modes/volumes. Very much calmer, clearer sound now and no WW2 going off in my ears whilst I am trying to talk to people!

But there is I think another problem which now seems very pronounced. Some days I can actually hear well without the hearing aids and on other days, even with the hearing aids in place, I miss every other word. It varies from week to week and I can’t believe that, despite all my comments to the docs, they haven’t picked up that hearing aids alone are not solving my problems.

Anyone’s thoughts would be helpful - is this a common problem and are there things which can be done about it? I have tried to get advice locally but I am surprised that there seems to be a complete absence of support groups around here (Hastings, UK) or any other sources of information. Suggestions as to good websites would be useful because I need to inform myself as much as possible - I am afraid the hospital don’t seem to think you should know anything about what’s going on with your ears!

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Hi wordbandit.

I have had two Nathos SP w from Dec 2015. As yet the NHS as no newer aids. I was told I have variable hearing, but not too sure how much, but there are days when the aids are very shrill. Mine were very noisy at first, the soft sounds were so loud, I could hear plastic bags a mile away.

Its interesting that you can try an OPN 3. and got a result. Would they be better than the Nathos for you?
Its a bit of a lottery as to who programs your HAs, and how well. I program my own HA`s as in the past, I have had a few problems. At the moment, I am going to try some from the high street dispenser, if I can find anything that works.

I self program my own Phonak hearing aids and I’ve found a solution to help with the amount of background noise I was hearing.

I wear ear molds with no vents. I also played around with the vent settings in the software. I’ve selected ‘open’ on my right side and ‘occurred’ on my left. It seems to really help with not hearing noise that I don’t want too.

Thanks for the comments. At first, my hearing aids were programmed so that every sound across the other side of the pub resounded in my ears - I gather from someone else’s remark that the aids are often deliberately set to pick up even the softest sounds. No use to me at all and the hearing aids have now been re-programmed - I hear the person I am conversing with quite well and clearly, other sounds far away just fade into the distance.

I wouldn’t know anything about programming my own hearing aids, wouldn’t know where to start!

The Oticon OPN 3 worked well for me, but it’s tiny in my ear and seemed to be gathering earwax quickly, so maybe I am better off with the larger ear-mould type of aid?