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People purchase hearing aids to improve their hearing. However, as hearing aids are complex pieces of technology, often, complications arise. Many individuals ask why do hearing aids whistle when they experience the phenomena for the first time. Like other intricate electronic tools, sometimes technology works in mysterious ways.
Hearing aids, just like software, can act a little buggy. A hearing aid whistling means something could be wrong inside. The reason a hearing aid is whistling varies from case to case, though. So only you can determine the exact cause.
With time, hearing aid users will quickly realize the cause of the whistling sound. Like troubleshooting other electronic devices, users will understand their devices and will discern the root causes of problems with experience.
Along with figuring out what causes hearing aids to whistle, learning how to stop hearing aids from whistling is necessary to get the full functionality out of your hearing aids. Thus, here we’ll look at what the most common causes are and the potential solutions. After reading this, anybody can troubleshoot a hearing aid with a whistling sound.
Why Is My Hearing Aid Whistling?
As each hearing aid is designed and functions differently, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. All hearing aid making whistling sounds do have the same issue, though—there is a feedback issue. That means the sound that you should be hearing through your device is getting picked up by the hearing aid’s microphone. As the sound from the hearing aid is already processed once, when it gets picked up again, the twice amplified sound causes a whistling sound. The most common reasons this feedback occurs are shown below.
The Hearing Aid Volume is Too High
Some individuals may have their hearing aids on a high-volume setting. This is normal in individuals who have a severe hearing impairment. If the volume is too loud, the sounds that should be coming into your ear may escape and get picked up by your hearing aid’s microphone.
Your Hearing Aid Tubing is Damaged
Many types of hearing aids have a tube that wraps over the top of one’s ear and feeds into the inside of the ear. An in-the-ear hearing aid whistling sound often is the result of having a damaged tube. Some hearing aids have a tube that can be damaged or that can harden and shrink over time. As the hearing aid tube shrinks, it may begin to pull the earmold, so the fit is not as snug as it once was. This can cause a poor deliverance of sound into the ear, subsequently allowing the microphone to pick up the sound again.
You Have an Earwax Blockage
Another common cause is having a buildup of earwax in your ear. Since hearing aids deliver sound directly into the ear canal, if the ear canal is blocked, sound cannot get through. When the sound waves try to enter the ear canal, the blockage obstructs the sound waves, and they bounce off and get picked up again by the microphone.
Earmolds Fit Poorly
Given enough time, ears change their shape. Other factors, like gaining weight or losing weight can also affect the shape and physiology of your ears. If you have been using the same pair of hearing aids for a long time, they may begin to not fit as well—especially with weight change.
Additionally, over time the hearing aid molds may themselves could get damaged, leading to an improper fit. This improper fitting of the earmold results in sound not entering the ear canal as well as it should. Thus, sound waves can escape and reach the microphone.
Every now and then, the problem of feedback may not result from a physical malfunction, change in shape, or even a software issue. Hearing aids can make whistling sounds from improper settings. Sometimes the settings on devices may change, or they were never correctly configured when you first purchased them.
Whistling isn’t always the result of a faulty device or connection. Wearing a hat or hugging another person can cause a brief whistling sound. Similarly, if your head is against a headrest, the proximity may cause your hearing aid to make a whistling sound.
If there are no other reasons that seem to cause the whistling sound, you may have a faulty hearing aid or a dislodged microphone. Either case, it’s difficult to tell if one is the cause.
How Do I Stop My Hearing Aid from Whistling?
Stopping your hearing aids from making a whistling sound depends on the problem, and sometimes, it depends on the model of your hearing aids. If you have a mechanical issue, the fix could prove to be quick and easy. If you’re hearing aid volume is too high, try turning it down. Make sure the sound is at an adequate level that you can still hear without straining. If there is still whistling, check the physical structure.
If you’ve had your hearing aids for a long time, you may need to replace the tubing. If your tube looks like it has any damage, or is starting to pull the earmold, it’s time to replace it. Alternatively, if you can feel your earmold does not sit comfortably, seek help from an audiologist. A specialist can help determine if your hearing aid is fit properly to your ear.
If the issue is not physical, nor volume, you may have an earwax blockage. If you’ve had any ear pain lately, or you’ve experienced a muffled sound, earwax could be the issue. Another telltale sign of earwax buildup is looking at your earmold. If you see some earwax on it, that could be your answer. Try using a small portion of hydrogen peroxide in the ear. Do not use a cotton swab. If you feel the issue persists, get assistance from an ENT specialist to get your ears cleaned.
When your hearing aid settings seem off, you think you have a dislodged microphone, or you have faulty hearing aids, seek help from an audiologist. They can determine what the cause is of the whistling and advise you on the best steps to take.