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

Are you beginning to hear a high pitch noise coming from your hearing aids? Feedback is a very common problem with hearing aids but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. Understanding exactly how hearing aids operate and what might be the reason for that constant whistling sound will get you one step closer to eradicating it. What can you do about hearing aid feedback?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids, basically, are actually simply a microphone and a speaker. When a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that becomes a little complicated.

In order for the sound to be processed, it must first be changed into an electrical analog signal. A cutting edge digital processing chip then converts the analog signal to digital. The sound is clarified after it becomes digital by the device’s features and settings.

The digital signal processor then transforms the signal back to analog and forwards it to a receiver. At this point, what was once a sound wave becomes an analog electrical signal and that’s not something you can hear. The waves of sound, that the receiver changes the signal back into, are then transmitted through your ears. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea turn it back into electrical signals for the brain to understand.

Amazingly all of this complex functionality takes place in a nanosecond. In spite of all of this sophisticated technology, the device still has feedback.

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback happens in other systems besides hearing aids. Sound systems that include microphones usually have some degree of feedback. Essentially, the microphone is picking up sound that is produced by the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave enters the microphone, then goes through the signal processing and after that the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then produced after the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. The system doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that causes it to screech.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop might be brought about by several issues. If you turn your hearing aid on in your hand before you put it in, you will get one of the most common causes. As soon as you press the on button, your hearing aid begins processing sound waves. The sound being produced by the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone producing the feedback. If your hearing aid is snuggly inside of your ear and then you turn it on, you will have resolved this particular feedback hassle.

If your hearing aids don’t fit that well, this can also trigger feedback. Loose fitting devices have a tendency to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since you last had them fitted. In that case, you need to go back to the retailer and have the piece re-adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

Hearing aids certainly have issues with earwax. Earwax accumulation on the outer casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting properly. And we are already aware that a loose fitting device will cause feedback. Look in the manual that came with your hearing aids or else check with the retailer to determine exactly how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Only Broken

This is your next thing to start thinking about when you’ve tried everything else. Feedback can certainly be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. For example, the outer casing might be cracked. You should not try to fix this damage at home. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.

Sometimes What Sounds Like Feedback is Really Something Else Entirely

Hearing aids will make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are actually something else. Many hearing aids use sound to alert you of imminent problems such as a low battery. Pay attention to the sound. Is it really a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? If your device has this feature, the manual will tell you.

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

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