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

Does your hearing aid sound a bit like a teapot right now? The well-known issue of feedback inside of your hearing aids can most likely be fixed. Understanding how hearing aids function and what is behind that incessant whistling sound will get you a little closer to getting rid of it. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids, basically, are actually simply a microphone and a speaker. The speaker plays the sound into your ear which the microphone picks up. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that becomes a little complicated.

After the sound is picked up by the microphone it gets transformed to an analog signal to be further processed. The analog form is then converted into digital by the device’s processor. The sound is clarified after becoming digital by the device’s properties and controls.

The digital signal processor then changes the signal back to analog and transmits 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 to, are then transmitted through your ears. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea translate it back into electrical signals for the brain to understand.

This all sounds very complicated but it takes place in about a nanosecond. In spite of all of this state-of-the-art technology, the device still has feedback.

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback happens in other sound systems besides hearing aids. If the sound system uses a microphone, chances are there is some feedback. In essence, the microphone is collecting sound that is produced by 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. A feedback loop is then created 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 makes it scream.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop may be brought about 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. Your hearing aid begins processing sound waves right when you hit the “on” switch. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand back into the microphone causing the feedback. The solution to this concern is quite simple; wait until the hearing aid is snuggly in your ear before pressing the switch.

Feedback can also be caused when your hearing aid isn’t fitting properly. Maybe you’ve lost some 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 head back to where you got it and have the piece re-adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

With regards to hearing aids, earwax is not a friend. Earwax accumulation on the casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting properly. And we are already aware that a loose fitting device will be the cause of feedback. If you consult your retailer or perhaps if you read the manual, you will learn how to safely clean this earwax off.

Perhaps It’s Simply Broke

When you’ve tried everything else but the feedback continues, this is what you do next. Feedback can definitely be caused by a broken hearing aid. The casing may have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should never try to fix this at home. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

There is a chance that what you are hearing is actually not feedback at all. There are a few other things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, like a low battery, which will give a warning sound. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? If your device has this feature, the manual will tell you.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Most hearing aids are capable of producing it and the cause is usually quite clear.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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