Why Do My Hearing Aids Whistle?

by | Aug 17, 2016

Hearing aids are the modern solution to hearing loss. Millions of people wear these miniaturized, customized, and digitally programmed devices every day to keep up with their own needs for clear hearing at all times. If you rely on hearing aids in your daily life just so that you can hear clearly, it is crucial that when something goes wrong with them;  whether it be an issue with battery power, placement within the ear canal or any other complication–it is important to identify solutions. 

Some issues arise with the use of hearing aids, and one of the common is when a hearing aid starts whistling. If you wear hearing aids, chances are  that at some point in your life, whistling will be an issue. The most common cause can be  as simple as putting on a new scarf. This situation has been dubbed “hearing aid feedback” and can quickly become annoying if it is not fixed properly.

How Does Hearing Aid Feedback Occur?

As a result of hearing aid feedback, a sound that was intended to travel through your ear canal instead returns to the microphone in your hearing aids. The sound is then reamplified, causing your hearing aids to whistle as a result.

The occurrence of this feedback can occur in a variety of situations, such as when you put your hearing aids on in the morning and take them off in the evening, or when you are hugged. In this case, it is normal because the hearing aids are responding to the sound that is rebounding back from your environment. There could be nothing wrong with your hearing aids, or they could simply need to be cleaned if you are experiencing input from them. In this scenario,  it is recommended that you visit with a hearing care professional.

What Causes Hearing Aids to Whistle?

Although many hearing aids come with feedback cancellation, they can’t completely safeguard you from the sound of whistling. Feedback is an annoyance for many people and can be frustrating if it occurs in public spaces where other people may hear your aid saying its name. Here are some common reasons why a person might experience feedback during their time wearing hearing devices: 

Improper fit

It is normal for your ears to change throughout time, just as it is for the rest of your body. In fact, they may even modify the shape of their bodies. If they do, the earmolds will become loose and will not seal correctly anymore. This implies that the sound is diverted away from your ear and is redirected back into the hearing aids. As a result, there is feedback. To remedy the situation, you need to have new earmolds fitted to your ears. In addition,  weight gain or weight loss can also have an impact on the fit of your earmolds and the sound they produce.

Furthermore, if your hearing aids are not properly placed in your ear, the sound has a greater possibility of escaping and re-entering the hearing aid microphone.  It is important to make sure they are placed tightly inside your ear canals. You can always have someone else look it over to see if it appears to be correct, or you can consult with a hearing care professional.

Excessive earwax

Our ears produce wax naturally to trap and expel foreign substances, but when you have wax build-up in your ears and insert your hearing aids on top of the wax, the sound coming out of the amplifier will be blocked and returned to the microphone. This causes a squeal  sound. Unfortunately, a quick swipe in your ear with a cotton swab probably will not do the trick. If this is a continual problem, see your hearing care professional for help.

Blocked/Dislodged microphone 

If the hearing aid’s microphone is covered with wax or debris, it will make a noise. Gently cleaning the holes of the microphone with a wax pick or hook should solve the problem. Hearing aid feedback can also be caused by loose or displaced microphones.

Mechanical problem

If one or more parts of the hearing aid are broken or malfunctioning, the gadget will not function properly, and the device can generate feedback. It is possible that there is a hole in the tubing and  may create an electrical contact between the casing and the speaker, or there is another problem that inhibits the hearing aid from providing clear sound.

Too high of  volume

It can sometimes be tempting to turn up the volume on your hearing aids. But turning it up too loud can force the sound to re-enter your hearing aids, which causes whistling. Turn down your hearing aid volume and avoid the point where the sound gets so loud that it creates feedback.

Poor molding

 A hearing aid ear mold and hearing aid casing should be well molded at the first fitting using impressions of the wearer’s ear. If the device is improperly molded, the device may be positioned so that sound bounces off the wall of the ear canal instead of being directed toward the eardrum. Your hearing provider can solve this problem by taking new impressions, repositioning the device, or making other personalized adjustments.

If  you have checked all of these possibilities, and you are still experiencing feedback from your hearing aid, you should contact a hearing care provider to arrange an appointment. Southwestern Hearing Centers (SWHC) is a full-service hearing care provider and we’d love to help you on your hearing journey. Southwestern Hearing Centers offers state-of-the-art hearing aids with cutting-edge artificial intelligence with a beautiful design. Our initial consultations are always FREE. You have nothing to lose, and your hearing to gain. Try our hearing aids for a no-cost 30-day risk-free trial. If you don’t want to keep them, it won’t cost you a thing. 

Other Common Hearing Aid Problems and How to Troubleshoot Them

Hearing aid is not producing enough sound

  1. Examine the hearing aid from all angles. Earwax may have gotten into the microphone hole or sound exit. Any debris should be removed with care.
  2. Check to see that your hearing aid is operational. Hearing aids are typically activated by shutting the battery door on the device. If the battery door is difficult to close, the battery is likely upside down. Remove the battery, flip it over, and try to re-insert it again. The door will close easily if it is properly installed.
  3. Increase the volume by using your remote control or by pressing the volume button on your hearing aid. To make sure the volume control wheel is fully turned on, move the wheel up and down a couple of times on the steering wheel.
  4. In order to switch between the many programs or memories you have, push the button to alter the settings if you have one and listen for several minutes to see if it makes a difference. If not, you should try another setting.
  5. Replace the battery with a new one. If you have a hearing aid battery tester, use it to check the voltage of the old battery to ensure it is dead before activating a new battery by removing the sticker off the old battery.
  6. Consider whether or not the hearing device needs repair. Further assistance might be obtained by contacting hearing care specialists. When it comes to troubleshooting and hearing aid repair, they may provide walk-in hours or same-day appointments.

Hearing aid not loud enough 

  1. Examine the hearing aids from all angles. Is there any earwax in the way of the microphone or the sound outlet? Maintain your behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid, including the earmold and tubing in order to ensure that there are no cracks, blockages, or beads of moisture in the tubing.
  2. Increase the volume by using your remote control or by pressing the volume button on your hearing aid. To ensure that you can hear the volume change when you use a manual volume control wheel, adjust it up and down a couple of times up and down.
  3. Try a different program or memory. You may have accidentally switched to a different program that is set differently from your usual program.
  4. Consider whether your hearing has changed as a result of this. For those who have not had their hearing evaluated in a long time, it may be necessary to make an appointment with your hearing care provider.

When to Seek Help

Occasional hearing aid feedback is perfectly normal and you should be able to stop it by taking your device out of your ear and re-inserting it. When your hearing aid is not in your ear correctly, it can allow enough room for the sounds to escape and get back to the microphone causing the feedback.

However, if you are experiencing feedback often, there may be something else wrong with your hearing aid. If you hear whistling when you move your jaw to chew or talk or turn your head, you should visit your hearing specialist.

Common causes of feedback include: excessive earwax buildup, cracked or broken tubing, poor fit, too much volume at certain frequencies, or dislodged microphones. Hearing Instrument Specialists at Southwestern Hearing Centers can fix most of these issues in one quick visit. If you’re experiencing feedback or whistling in your hearing aid that is disrupting your everyday life, be sure to call and schedule an appointment today.

Southwestern Hearing Centers Are Committed to Your Happiness 

If you’re having issues with your hearing aid, Southwestern Hearing Centers would love to help you. Southwestern Hearing Centers offers state-of-the-art hearing aids with cutting-edge artificial intelligence with a beautiful design. Our hearing aids have been awarded TIMES Best Invention of 2019. The new hearing aids now feature integrated sensors and artificial intelligence. These hearing aids deliver superior sound quality and allow you to enjoy life more fully.

Not only are we the oldest and largest hearing care provider, but we are also the most reviewed! With thousands of online reviews and testimonials, we invite you to experience a visit for yourself!! At Southwestern Hearing Centers, we take an active approach to keep those in need aware of their hearing health and possible hearing options. The time is now to take back your hearing. Reach out today!