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

Does your hearing aid sound a little like a teapot these days? A very common issue with hearing aids which can most likely be fixed is feedback. The annoying high pitched sound can be better understood by learning how your hearing aids operate. What can you do about hearing aid feedback?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

As a basic rule, hearing aids are simply a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it in your ear. When the microphone picks the sound up but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some complicated functions that occur.

After the sound enters the microphone it gets modified into an analog signal for processing. The analog form is then converted into digital by the device’s digital signal processor. Once digital, the various features and settings of the hearing aids activate to intensify and clean up the sound.

The digital signal processor then changes the signal back to analog and sends it to a receiver. At this stage, what was once a sound wave becomes an analog electrical signal and that isn’t something you can hear. The receiver converts it back to sound waves and sends them 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.

This all sounds very complex but it takes place in about a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it feedback?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Hearing aids are not the only place that you hear feedback. You hear that same whistle in the majority of sound systems which employ a microphone. The receiver puts out sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, goes through the signal processing and then the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. The microphone starts to pick up that sound wave again and amplifies it creating the feedback loop. The system hates hearing itself over and over again and that makes it screech.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop might be caused by several difficulties. A very common cause is turning the hearing aid on in your hand and then putting it in your ear. Your hearing aid begins processing sound waves as soon as you hit the “on” button. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone triggering the feedback. When your hearing aid is snuggly inside of your ear and then you turn it on, you will have resolved this particular feedback concern.

Occasionally hearing aids won’t fit as well as they ought to and that can lead to feedback. If you have lost weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids are older, you might have a loose fit. If that’s the case, you need to go back to where you got it and have the piece adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

With regards to hearing aids, earwax is not a friend. Earwax accumulation on the casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting right. When that takes place, the device is once again loose and produces feedback. If you ask your retailer or maybe if you study the manual, you will learn how to safely clean this earwax off.

Perhaps It’s Simply Broke

When you’ve attempted everything else but the feedback continues, this is what you do next. Feedback can absolutely be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. The casing might have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should never attempt to fix this damage at home. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to get it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

There is a chance that what you are hearing is actually not feedback at all. Many hearing aids employ 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 comes with this feature, the manual will tell you.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Usually, the actual cause of the feedback is quite clear regardless of what brand you have.