Why do hearing aids whistle?

Hearing aid feedback

If you wear a hearing aid you may have heard it whistle on at least one occasion. This whistling sound is known as feedback and can occur in a variety of contexts and for a variety of reasons. Let's take a look at what causes it and what you can do when it happens.

What is hearing aid feedback?

Hearing aid feedback occurs when a sound that should have entered the ear canal leaves the ear and jumps back into the hearing aid microphone, where it is re-amplified, creating a whistling sound.

What causes a whistling sound in a hearing aid?

There can be a number of reasons that can cause a hearing aid to whistle. Most of the time, these external factors are common and easily rectifiable: a poor fit, excessive earwax production, high volume, or minor damage to the microphone and the silicone tubes.

Incorrect fittings

Occasionally, it may occur that a set of hearing aids does not fit properly in the ear. Ill-fitting hearing aids are likely to allow the sound to seep out and return to the hearing aid, resulting in whistling. In this case, it is best to opt for a more suitable model with a better fit. 

Excess earwax

If sound passing through the ear canal is blocked by earwax buildup or excess earwax, it will bounce back into the hearing aid and ring. In such cases, we recommend that you have your ears cleaned by your hearing care professional.

Wrong volume level

Excessively loud noise can force sound back through the hearing aids' microphone, causing feedback. Louder isn’t always better, which is why it is always best to limit the volume of your devices. 

Silicone tubing problems

It is possible for the hearing aid tube to become clogged, preventing it from transmitting sound properly, resulting in whistling. In this case, a thorough cleaning or replacement of the hearing tube may help.

Microphone-related problems

To prevent hearing aid whistling, it is best to check if the microphone has become loose or moved out of position. If you notice anything unusual, consult your hearing care professional.

How do I stop my hearing aid from whistling?

The most common causes of acoustic feedback can be easily resolved through regular hearing aid care and maintenance. However, if you are unable to pinpoint the precise cause of the whistling, we recommend undergoing a series of periodic checkups with your doctor and consulting a hearing care professional.

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