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Whistling Hearing Aids: Causes and Solutions
If you wear hearing aids to manage hearing loss or tinnitus symptoms, the life-changing devices play a hugely positive role in a range of daily activities. However, it is not uncommon for problems to surface from time to time. Whistling sounds coming from the device itself are one of the most frequently reported issues.
Whether it’s a constant whistling or an intermittent noise, it can be very disruptive and frustrating to live with. Here’s all you need to know about why it happens and how to fix the problem to unlock the full benefits of wearing hearing aids once more.
The hearing aids are not correctly fitted
Ill-fitting hearing aids will cause feedback and whistling. For example, if the device is too loose, it leads to issues with air pressure that can cause sounds that are often similar to the symptoms of tinnitus. In this case, the simple solution is to remove the hearing aid and reinsert it a little deeper into the ear canal – after inspecting it for damage or dirt.
It is a particularly common issue for hearing aid wearers who purchase their devices online or ‘off the shelf’ without booking a fitting appointment with the audiologist. In addition to checking that they fit, it is an opportunity to test their calibration and other key attributes for optimal performance and comfort.
Blockages due to excessive earwax
A little earwax is totally normal and actively plays a key role in protecting your ears and long-term hearing health. However, excessive earwax can block the aural canal, which consequently makes the sounds bounce back before they are transmitted to the brain. In turn, it causes a feedback loop that manifests as whistling sounds.
The loud whistling noises in your ear canal may also lead to hearing loss, so it’s important to treat this issue right away. Regularly cleaning the hearing aids will help. However, if you have a buildup of wax, professional earwax removal and irrigation should be used. It will prevent the whistling and remove the blockage.
The volume is too high
Setting the hearing aids to the right volume level is a crucial factor for enjoying the best performance. While setting them too low will prevent you from hearing sounds, going too high forces the sound backward and can lead to whistling and screeching sounds. Turning the sound down may provide an instant fix.
If you cannot seem to find the right setting, your audiologist can help with this. In addition to the volume, you should check the batteries. A lack of power can cause a wide range of issues, including whistling sounds, crackling, buzzing and more. Changing or charging the batteries may restore the performance levels.
Faulty hearing aids
Hearing aids are small, yet intricate devices that rely on several key components working together to function properly. If one of them becomes damaged or begins to malfunction, whistling is one of the most likely repercussions. It could be as simple as a blocked sound tube that can no longer transmit sounds in the desired manner.
Alternatively, the tubing could be worn and perished, meaning that it needs a replacement. Warped earmolds and misaligned microphones that have been knocked out of place are common issues too. Scheduling an appointment to have your hearing aids cleaned and inspected by your audiologist could help identify any faulty parts before they become problematic.
If the whistling sounds are only noticed when giving hugs, for example, it is a minor source of frustration that you may have to learn to live with. The interference from other people and materials can cause a short burst of feedback. While it can be a little annoying, the good news is that there is nothing wrong with the device itself.
It may not be possible to prevent all of these situations, but you can take steps to reduce them. You can avoid wearing hats or scarves, or at least ensure that they do not come into contact with your ears. You may also want to stop chewing gum as excessive jaw movements are another leading cause.
Finally, the whistling sounds may not come from the hearing aids or any external force. It could be a sign of tinnitus. It is a particularly likely outcome if you have noticed whistling even when not wearing your hearing aids. When this is the case, finding hearing aids that can play white noise or melodies is often one of the best solutions.
Whether you have experienced tinnitus or not, whistling sounds need to be addressed. Visiting an audiologist to identify and treat the issues will be the best solution by far. Take the first steps by calling Grusecki Audiology & Hearing Aid Services at 623-583-1737 today.