What’s The Reason For All That Feedback Coming From my Hearing Aids?

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

Are you beginning to hear an annoying high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? Feedback is a common issue with hearing aids but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. Knowing how hearing aids operate and what is behind that annoying whistling sound will get you one step closer to getting rid of it. What can be done about hearing aid feedback?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of hearing aid technology. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it in your ear. But there are advanced functions in between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

Once a sound wave is picked up by the microphone it gets modified to an analog signal for processing. The analog version is then translated into a digital signal by the device’s digital signal processor. The device’s sophisticated properties and controls activate to amplify and clean up the sound.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being modified back to analog by the digital signal processor. At this point, what was once a sound becomes an analog electrical signal and that isn’t something you can hear. The receiver converts the signal back to sound waves and sends them through your ear canal. Elements in the cochlea turn it back into an electrical signal that the brain can understand.

It all sounds very complex but it occurs in about 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 high pitched noise in most sound systems that employ a microphone. Basically, the microphone is collecting sound which is coming from the receiver and re-amplifying it. After coming into the microphone and being processed, the receiver then converts the signal back into a sound wave. The microphone starts to pick up that sound wave again and amplifies it generating the feedback loop. Put simply, the hearing aid is hearing itself and doesn’t like it.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop can be caused by several difficulties. One of the most common causes is turning the hearing aid on while it’s still in your hand and then putting it in your ear. Right when you push the on button, your hearing aid begins processing sound waves. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone creating the feedback. Before you decide to switch your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear and you will eliminate this source of feedback.

In some cases hearing aids won’t fit quite as well as they should and that can lead to feedback problems. If you have lost weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids are older, you might have a loose fit. If that’s the case, you should go back to the retailer and have the piece re-adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

Earwax isn’t a friend when it comes to hearing aids. Earwax buildup on the outer casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting right. And we are already aware that a loose fitting device will cause feedback. Look in the manual that came with your hearing aids or contact the retailer to determine exactly how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Just Broke

When you’ve attempted everything else but the feedback continues, this is what you do next. A broken hearing aid will indeed feedback. The casing might have a crack in it somewhere, for example. It’s unwise to try to fix the unit on your own. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to get it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

There is a possibility that what you are hearing is actually not really feedback at all. A low battery or other possible problems will cause a warning sound in some devices. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? Check your manual to see if your device has this feature and what other warnings you should pay attention to in the future.

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

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