Why is my hearing aid whistling?
“Excuse me, but I think there’s a whistling noise coming from your ears,” says your significant other, friend or complete stranger.
How annoying – for everyone. But don’t despair! You can do your own investigation to see what is causing the issue.
The whistling sound you get from your hearing aid is generally caused from sound leaking out of the ear canal and being fed back into the hearing aid microphone. While modern hearing aids have come a long way with feedback cancellation, it still can sometimes arise.
This can happen for a number of reasons. Let’s investigate ways to check what’s causing the whistling.
- 1Step 1: Is your hearing aid in properly? Feel with your fingers to see if the hearing aid is sitting properly in your ear. Is the dome/earmould pushed in far enough? Check you’ve put the correct hearing aid in your ear (remember red for right, blue for left). If you’ve re-inserted your hearing aid and it’s still whistling, this isn’t the cause of the whistle.
- 2Step 2: Is something rubbing across the top of the hearing aid microphone? If you wear a hat sometimes this can make the hearing aid whistle. Or perhaps the whistling noise happens when you hold the phone to your ear. Try changing the position of the telephone against your ear to see if the noise stops. Let you Hearing Healthcare Provider (HHP) know this is happening so they can give you suggestions for combating the whistling sound from these actions.
- 3Step 3: Do you have a Behind-the-Ear (BTE) style of hearing aid? If so, check the tubing that carries the sound from the hearing aid to the earmould. If there’s a split in the tubing, that could be causing the whistling sound. If this is the case, then you will need to get the tubing replaced. This is a very quick procedure and can generally be done over the counter at your hearing clinic.
- 4Step 4: Are you prone to getting too much earwax? If so, you could have wax blocking your ear canal and this will cause the hearing aid to whistle. Go to your doctor, Audiologist or Audiometrist to get your ear canals checked for wax. If there’s too much wax it will need to be removed. Some Audiologists and Audiometrists are trained to remove wax and can do this for you, otherwise your GP can remove the wax. Once the wax is gone, try your hearing aid to see if the whistling has stopped. If not, move on to step five.
- 5Step 5: Does your earmould fit properly? Sometimes the earmould you’ve been fitted with isn’t a good fit and sound is leaking out. You could have a dome type of earmould and you may need to change to custom fit earmould. Your Audiologist or Audiometrist can assess this for you. If you already have a custom earmould it may need to be altered in some way to stop the whistling. The vents may need to be blocked up to stop the whistling. Or the earmould may have shrunk with age so you may need a new impression taken of your ear to get a new earmould made. Your HHP will make any adjustments necessary.
- 6Step 6: Is your hearing aid set properly? Perhaps there is too much power or ‘gain’ in your hearing aid, particularly in the high pitch sounds. Again, your HHP can assess this and make any adjustments required to your hearing aid settings to stop the whistling.
- 7Step 7: If the whistling sound is still happening after all this investigation, there may be an internal fault in your hearing aid. If that’s the case, then the aid will need to be sent away for repairs.
So if you notice a whistle coming from your hearing aid while it’s in your ear – go through these steps to see if you can be your own detective to discover the cause. If its something simple like how you’re putting in your hearing aid, then this will save you a trip to your hearing clinic.
But when in doubt, always check with your HHP.