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Why does my hearing aid whistle?

Question

Why does my hearing aid whistle?

Answer

A whistling hearing aid can be extremely annoying and can cause embarrassment if audible to others around you. The high-pitched sound is feedback from the hearing aid. The good news is that you can almost always do something about it. 

You usually get whistling or squeaking from your hearing aid if the ear mould isn’t in properly. The mould needs to be sitting in the ear snugly to stop any sound escaping through it (that’s what causes the whistling).

Still getting feedback? Here’s some tips for how to avoid that annoying whistling sound…

  • Wax in the ear canal may prevent sound from travelling into the ear. The sound being forced back out of the ear results in the high-pitched whistle. Try putting a few drops of olive oil into your ear morning and night for 5 days. If no improvement then make an appointment with your GP who will either prescribe you some ear drops or make an appointment for you to have your ears syringed, a painless procedure which will remove any wax still present using high pressured water.
  • Wearing hearing aids on full volume may create the annoying sound. If you need them at full volume the majority of time to hear properly then speak to an audiologist who can check your hearing and test that your aid is performing properly.
  • Being in close proximity to something can make some aids whistle, audiologists often test this by waving their hand close to the aid to check for feedback. Speak to your audiologist about the issue if you notice this happening. You may have noticed that hugging people on that side can cause feedback, so get into the habit of directing friends and relatives to the side that doesn’t have an aid in (in applicable) to reduce feedback from occurring.
  • A cap covering the hearing aids can make the hearing aids whistle. Turn down the volume or take off the cap.
  • Remember that weight gain or weight loss may result in a bad fit, and an ill-fitting ear mould can cause the hearing aid to make the whistling sound. See your audiologist to get a new or modified ear mould.
  • The plastic tube that joins some hearing aids to the ear mould can harden and shrink, pulling the ear mould so that it no longer sits correctly in the ear. This can cause the whistling sound. Try replacing the tube – your audiologist can assist as part of the aftercare service.

Whistling can also occur while the hearing aid is being inserted, when there is naturally an imperfect fit between the earpiece and the ear. Today’s aids get round this by incorporating a few-second delay between closing the battery case (which turns the aid on) and the electronics starting up. If the aid is put in place quickly enough then the whistling can often be prevented. You could try turning the aid on (close the battery case) once the aid is in place, although this can be more tricky for those with longer hair.

 

If you’re struggling with feedback and you don’t already have an Invisible In Canal (IIC) hearing aid, this might be something you should consider. They can completely eliminate any feedback whistling, use the latest cutting edge digital technology for better sound quality and are custom made to fit completely in your ear canal. The Resound Verso IIC, for example, contains a feedback suppression program and wind noise reduction to help you hear clearly when you are outside. It also offers a music mode to make musical notes clearer without creating feedback or distorting sound.

Author: Paul Harrison

Date: Tuesday 16th June, 2015

Published in: Hearing Aid Questions

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