Woman suffering from feedback in her hearing aids covering her ears.

Does your hearing aid sound a bit like a teakettle recently? Feedback is a very common concern with hearing aids but it’s not something that you can’t have fixed. If you want to get quite a bit closer to knowing why you keep getting that high pitch whistling sound, you need to understand how your hearing aids work. What can you do about hearing aid feedback?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of a hearing aid. The speaker plays back the sound into your ear which the microphone picks up. When the microphone picks the sound up but prior to when it is played back by the speaker, there are some intricate functions that occur.

The sound is then converted to an analog electrical signal for processing after being picked up by the microphone. A high-tech digital processing microchip then changes the analog signal to digital. The device’s advanced properties and controls activate to amplify and clean up the sound.

The digital signal processor then transforms the signal back to analog and transmits it to a receiver. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals which were once a sound. The sound waves, which the receiver changes the signal back to, are then sent through your ears. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea translate it back to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

Surprisingly all of this complex functionality happens in a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it still feedback?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback happens in other sound systems besides hearing aids. You hear that same whistle in the majority of sound systems which utilize a microphone. The receiver generates sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave goes into the microphone, then goes through the signal processing and then the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. The sound is re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which creates a loop of feedback. The system hates hearing itself over and over again and that causes it to screech.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are several things that might become a problem which could cause this feedback loop. If you turn your hearing aid on in your hand prior to putting it in, you will get one of the most common causes. Right when you push the on button, your hearing aid starts to process sound. This feedback is produced when the sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone. If your hearing aid is snuggly inside of your ear before turning it on, you will have resolved this particular feedback problem.

Feedback can also be caused when your hearing aid isn’t fitting properly. Maybe you’ve lost weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids a bit older, you might have a loose fit. Getting an adjustment from the retailer is the only good remedy to this problem.

Feedback And Earwax

When it comes to hearing aids, earwax is in no way a friend. Earwax accumulation on the casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting right. When that happens, the device is once again loose and triggers feedback. If you consult your retailer or maybe if you study the manual, you will find out how to safely clean this earwax off.

Maybe It’s Only Broke

When you’ve attempted everything else but the feedback continues, this is where you head next. Feedback can definitely be caused by a damaged hearing aid. For example, the outer casing might be cracked. It’s unwise to try and fix the unit yourself. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

There is a possibility that what you are hearing is actually not feedback at all. A low battery or other possible issues can cause a warning sound in some devices. Listen to the sound. Is it really a screeching noise or does it sound more like a beep? Check the manual to find out if your device has this feature and what other warning sounds you should pay attention to in the future.

It doesn’t make a difference what brand or style you own. Typically, the cause of the feedback is quite clear no matter what brand you have.

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