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What causes hearing aid feedback and how can you eliminate it?

Last update on Sep, 28, 2021

Your hearing aid is a tiny but incredible device, but it can feel like a nuisance if you start hearing unwanted hearing aid feedback. While today’s modern technology has helped to reduce the likelihood your hearing aid will whistle or squeal in your ear, you might still hear feedback noises once in a while. 

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What causes hearing aid feedback?

Hearing aid feedback occurs when sound waves already amplified by your device escape your ear canal and are picked up by the hearing aid microphone. This causes the sound to be reamplified and can create a whistling or squealing noise. While occasional instances of this happening are normal, such as when you hug someone or if your ear is brushed when putting on a sweater, you shouldn’t be hearing feedback all the time.

A continuously squealing or whistling hearing aid could mean there’s something else going on with your device. Possible issues include:

Ill-fitting hearing aid

One of the most likely reasons your hearing aid is producing abnormal feedback is because it doesn’t fit properly in your ear. The first step to checking if this is the problem is to take out the hearing aid and reinsert it. Sometimes, it just takes a little adjustment to make sure it’s positioned correctly.

If re-inserting doesn’t help, you might have a bigger issue with the fit of your device. While your hearing aid may have fit well in the past, it’s not uncommon for your ear shape to change over time. If you have lost weight, it’s likely the earmolds have become loose and aren’t sealing correctly. Similarly, weight gain can also impact the fit of your hearing aids. If this is the case, visit a hearing care professional to have your hearing aids re-shaped by an expert

Too much earwax

Another common cause of hearing aid squeal or whistling is an excess of earwax. When too much earwax builds up in your ear canal, it can affect the fit of your hearing aid. It can also create a block in your ear canal that prevents sound from getting through. Sound can bounce off this barrier and go back into your hearing aid, causing feedback.

If this is the cause, visit a hearing care professional to have the wax removed. You don’t want to try at-home methods, like swiping a cotton swab or ear candling, as these can be unsafe and hurt your ears. While seeing a specialist, also consider having your hearing aids deep cleaned as well.

Too high volume

While you might think turning the volume up on your hearing aids will help make the feedback quit, this could actually be the culprit for those unwanted sounds. When your hearing aids are too loud, this can force the sound from the speaker to re-enter through the microphone, resulting in unpleasant squeals and whistles. Preventing that feedback could be as simple as lowering the volume. 

Mechanical problems

Hearing aids are complex and delicate devices, and wear-and-tear happens. If your hearing aids are fitting properly, clean, not too loud and full of battery, there could be a bigger problem that requires professional troubleshooting or repair. The tubing within your hearing aid could be damaged, the microphone could be dislodged or another piece could be broken, bent or misshaped. In any case, don’t try to repair your hearing aid on your own—schedule an appointment at your local Miracle-Ear and let our hearing aid specialists find and repair the root cause of the feedback.

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Don’t settle for hearing aid feedback

Hearing aid feedback is annoying and obtrusive, and if it’s happening frequently, you shouldn’t have to simply deal with it. If you’re sure the hearing aid is fitted and inserted correctly, there could be a deeper issue with your device. When in doubt, visit a hearing aid specialist to get your device working smoothly (and quietly) once again.

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