Hearing whistling or squealing sounds in your ears is likely an experience you are looking to avoid. For people that wear hearing aids, chances are you have heard some sort of whistling or high-pitched hissing come from your device at some point. This is referred to as feedback and it can be caused by a variety of factors. You can also think of it as interference, which can be caused by two electronic devices coming in close proximity to each other. So, how can hearing aid whistling be prevented?
What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?
Feedback from a hearing aid typically occurs when the sound coming from the device that was meant for your ear canal loops back around and ends up in the hearing aid microphone. This sound then gets reamplified in the form of whistling or high-pitched squealing. This can be extremely annoying if not jarring for the wearer and those in the immediate vicinity.
Some minimal feedback is normal when putting on hearing aids or taking them off as the hearing aids react to the surroundings. However, if whistling or squealing is a persistent problem then it is time to rectify the situation.
Common Reasons For Hearing Aid Feedback
Although feedback cancelation is a standard feature on many modern hearing aid devices, it is not guaranteed to prevent feedback from occurring. Some of the most prevalent factors that can cause hearing aids to whistle, include:
- Incorrect volume setting
- Ill-fitting device
- Ear wax buildup
- Tubing & molding issues
- Technical issues
It is recommended to keep the hearing aid volumes as close to the default setting as possible to avoid feedback. If you are having trouble hearing conversations, it can be a natural response to turn up the volume on your hearing aid. However, when the sound is too loud it can reverberate back to the microphone causing feedback. Keep hearing aid volumes at low manageable levels to avoid this issue.
A snug fit is absolutely crucial to optimal hearing aid functionality. Ill-fitting hearing aids allow sound to leak out and echo back to the microphone causing whistling or squealing. Hearing aid earmolds need to form a tight seal to prevent this from happening. If you do not have custom earmolds this may be the cause of the problem. Even with custom earmolds, they should be checked routinely by a hearing professional to ensure there are no gaps.
The shape of your ear can change naturally over time, and also fluctuations in weight can impact the fit of hearing aid earmolds. If hearing aids are not properly inserted and set in the ear, it increases the risk of sound escaping and causing feedback.
Hearing aids are designed to amplify the sounds coming through the ear canal so they can be accurately identified by the brain. However, if the ear canal is blocked by excess wax accumulation the sounds have nowhere to go but back to the hearing aid microphone resulting in feedback. If ear wax blockages are the issue, it is recommended to have your ears cleaned by a professional and also have your device checked for blockages in the receivers or vents.
Tubing & Molding
We already touched on how important hearing aid earmolds are to ensure a good fit. It is a good idea to avoid potential problems from the start with custom molding. When earmolds are made using impressions of the individual’s ear, it helps secure a tight seal. Issues can also occur with the tube that connects the device to the earmold. If the tubing becomes detached or damaged it will need to be replaced.
Like with any mechanical or technological device, there is always the risk of technical issues. This may even involve the microphone becoming dislodged or displaced. Having your hearing aid device checked regularly by a hearing professional helps prevent issues before they occur and keeps your hearing aids performing optimally.