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

Are you beginning to hear an annoying high pitch noise coming from your hearing aids? Feedback is a common concern with hearing aids but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. Knowing exactly how hearing aids function and what is behind that annoying whistling sound will get you a little closer to eradicating it. What can you do about hearing aid feedback?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of hearing aid technology. When a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. But there are intricate functions in between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

Once a sound wave enters the microphone it is transformed into an electrical analog signal to be further processed. The analog rendition is then translated into digital by the device’s digital signal processor. Once the signal is converted to digital, the numerous features and controls of the device kick in to intensify and clarify the sound.

The processor then transforms the signal back to analog and forwards it to a receiver. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals which were once a sound. The sound waves, that the receiver converts the signal back to, are then sent through your ear canal. Elements in the cochlea translate it back into an electrical signal that the brain can understand.

It’s hard to comprehend but all of this takes place in a nanosecond. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Hearing aids are not the only place where you hear feedback. Sound systems that include microphones normally have some amount of feedback. The receiver puts out sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. After going into the microphone and being processed, the receiver then turns the signal back into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then produced after the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. 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 go wrong to create this feedback loop. One of the most common causes is turning the hearing aid on in your hand and then putting it into your ear. Right when you push the on button, your hearing aid starts to process sound waves. The feedback is triggered as the sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand and back into the microphone. Before you turn your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear and you will eliminate this particular source of feedback.

In some cases hearing aids don’t fit as well as they ought to and that can lead to feedback problems. If you have lost some weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids are older, you may have a loose fit. Getting an adjustment from the seller is the only real answer to this problem.

Earwax And Feedback

Hearing aids certainly have issues with earwax. Earwax accumulation on the casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting right. And we already learned that a loose fitting device can cause feedback. Read the manual that came with your hearing aids or else contact the retailer to find out exactly how to clean earwax off safely.

Maybe It’s Simply Broke

If all else doesn’t work you need to take this into consideration. A damaged hearing aid will indeed feedback. The casing might have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should never attempt to fix this at home. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to get it fixed.

Occasionally What Sounds Like Feedback is Actually Something Else Altogether

There is a chance that what you are hearing is actually not feedback at all. A low battery or perhaps other potential problems will cause a warning sound in some devices. 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 owners manual will tell you.

It doesn’t matter what brand or style you use. Many brands of hearing aids are going to produce it and the cause is usually very clear.