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

Is that a teapot or is it just your hearing aids? A very common problem with hearing aids which can most likely be corrected is feedback. That aggravating high pitched sound can be better comprehended by getting some understanding of how your hearing aids function. But exactly what can be done?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of hearing aid technology. The speaker plays back the sound in your ear that the microphone picks up. When the microphone picks the sound up but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some complex functions that occur.

Once a sound wave enters the microphone it is converted to an electrical analog signal for processing. The analog rendition is then translated into a digital signal by the device’s digital signal processor. The device’s advanced features and settings activate to amplify and clarify the sound.

The processor then transforms the signal back to analog and sends it to a receiver. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals which were once a sound. The sound waves, which the receiver converts the signal back into, are then sent 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.

It all sounds quite complicated but it takes place in a nanosecond. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Feedback doesn’t exclusively happen in hearing aids. Systems that include microphones commonly have some amount of feedback. Essentially, the microphone is collecting sound which is coming from the receiver and re-amplifying it. After entering the microphone and being processed, the receiver then transforms the signal back into a sound wave. The microphone starts to pick up that same sound wave again and amplifies it creating the feedback loop. To put it simply, the hearing aid is listening to itself and doesn’t like it.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are quite a few things that might become a problem which could create this feedback loop. 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. As soon as you press the on switch, your hearing aid begins processing sound. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone producing the feedback. Before you decide to switch your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear to eliminate this source of feedback.

Feedback can also be caused when your hearing aid doesn’t fit properly. Maybe you’ve lost some weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids are older, you may have a loose fit. In that case, you need to head back to the retailer and have the piece adjusted to fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

Earwax isn’t a friend of your hearing aids. One of the main reasons that hearing aids don’t fit right is because of the accumulation of earwax on the casing. And we already know that a loose fitting device can be the cause of feedback. If you get in touch with your retailer or perhaps if you study the manual, you will determine how to safely clean this earwax off.

Maybe It’s Only Broken

This is your next thing to think about when you’ve tried everything else. Feedback can definitely be caused by a damaged hearing aid. As an example, the outer casing might be cracked. It’s unwise to try to fix it yourself. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to have it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

You may well be hearing something that sounds like feedback but it’s actually not. A low battery or maybe even other potential problems can cause a warning sound in many devices. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? If your device comes with this feature, the manual will tell you.

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

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