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 concern with hearing aids which can probably be fixed is feedback. That aggravating high pitched noise can be better comprehended by learning how your hearing aids work. But exactly what can you do about it?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

As a basic rule, hearing aids are just a microphone and a speaker. The speaker plays back the sound into your ear that the microphone picks up. But there are intricate functions in between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

The sound is translated to an analog electrical signal to be processed after being picked up by the microphone. The analog version is then converted into a digital signal by the device’s digital signal processor. The sound is clarified after becoming digital by the device’s properties and controls.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being changed back to analog by the processor. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals which were once a sound. The waves of sound, which the receiver converts the signal back into, are then sent through your ears. Elements in the cochlea translate it back into an electrical signal that the brain can interpret.

Surprisingly all of this complicated functionality takes place in a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it still feedback?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Hearing aids are not the only place where you notice feedback. Systems that include microphones commonly have some amount of feedback. Essentially, the microphone is picking up sound that is coming from the receiver and re-amplifying it. After going into the microphone and getting processed, the receiver then turns the signal back into a sound wave. The microphone starts to pick up that sound wave again and amplifies it generating the feedback loop. The hearing aid hates hearing itself over and over again and that makes it screech.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop can be created by several issues. A very common cause is turning the hearing aid on in your hand and then putting it into your ear. Your hearing aid begins processing sound waves as soon as you hit the “on” button. This feedback is triggered as the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone. The answer to this issue is quite simple; wait until after the hearing aid is snuggly in your ear before pushing the button.

Feedback is sometimes caused when your hearing aid isn’t fitting properly. Loose fitting devices have a tendency to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since having them fitted. In that case, you should go back to the retailer and have the piece adjusted to fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

With regards to hearing aids, earwax is not a friend. One of the main reasons that hearing aids don’t fit right is because of the buildup of earwax on the casing. When that takes place, the device is once again loose and causes 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 Just Broke

If all else doesn’t work you need to take this into consideration. Feedback can definitely be caused by a damaged hearing aid. The casing may have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should not try to fix this at home. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

There is a chance that what you are hearing is not really feedback at all. There are a few other things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, like a low battery, which can give you a warning sound. Listen to the sound. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? Check the users-manual to find out if your device has this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Usually, the cause of the feedback is very clear no matter what brand you have.

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