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

Are you starting to hear an annoying high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? Feedback is a very common issue with hearing aids but it’s not something that you can’t have fixed. That annoying high pitched noise can be better understood by getting some understanding of how your hearing aids operate. What can be done about hearing aid feedback?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

As a basic rule, hearing aids are simply a microphone and a speaker. After a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. But there are intricate functions between when the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

In order for the sound to be processed, it must first be translated into an electrical analog signal. The analog version is then converted into digital by the device’s processor. Once digital, the various features and controls of the hearing aids activate to amplify and clarify the sound.

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

This all sounds very complex but it occurs in about a nanosecond. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback doesn’t only happen inside hearing aids. Systems with microphones generally have some amount of feedback. The receiver generates sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. After entering the microphone and getting processed, the receiver then converts the signal back into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then produced when the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. To put it simply, the hearing aid is hearing itself and doesn’t like it.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are several things that can become a problem which could cause this feedback loop. If you turn on your hearing aid while it’s still in your hand before you put it in, you will get a very common cause. As soon as you press the on button, your hearing aid starts to process sound waves. The feedback is produced when the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off your hand and back into the microphone. The answer to this difficulty is quite simple; wait until the hearing aid is snuggly in your ear before hitting the button.

Feedback is sometimes caused when your hearing aid doesn’t fit properly. Loose fittings 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 adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

Hearing aids certainly have issues with earwax. Earwax buildup on the casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting properly. And we are already aware that a loose fitting device will be the cause of feedback. If you get in touch with your retailer or if you study the manual, you will determine how to safely clean this earwax off.

Maybe It’s Just Broken

If everything else doesn’t work you need to take this into consideration. Feedback can definitely be caused by a damaged hearing aid. For instance, the outer casing might be cracked. It’s unwise to try and fix it on your own. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

Sometimes What Sounds Like Feedback is Actually Something Else Altogether

There is a chance that what you are hearing is not really feedback at all. There are things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, such as a low battery, which can give you a warning sound. Pay attention to the sound. Is it really a screeching noise or does it sound more like a beep? If your device has this feature, the owners manual will tell you.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Typically, the actual cause of the feedback is pretty clear no matter what brand you own.

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