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

Does your hearing aid sound a bit like a teapot right now? Feedback is a very common concern with hearing aids but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. The annoying high pitched sound can be better understood by getting some understanding of how your hearing aids operate. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of hearing aid technology. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it into your ear. But there are advanced functions between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

The sound is then converted to an analog electrical signal for processing after entering the microphone. A cutting edge digital signal processing microchip then changes the analog signal to digital. The sound is clarified after becoming digital by the device’s features and controls.

The processor then changes the signal back to analog and sends it to a receiver. It’s not possible to hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The receiver converts the signal back to sound waves and transmits them 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 quite complicated but it takes place in about a nanosecond. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Hearing aids are not the only place that you notice feedback. If the sound system uses a microphone, chances are there is some amount of feedback. Essentially, the microphone is collecting sound which 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 sound is re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which brings about a loop of feedback. The hearing aid doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that causes it to scream.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are quite a few things that could go wrong to cause this feedback loop. A very common cause is turning the hearing aid on while it’s still in your hand and then putting it into your ear. As soon as you press the on switch, your hearing aid begins processing sound. The feedback is caused as the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone. If your hearing aid is snuggly inside your ear and then you turn it on, you will have solved this particular feedback hassle.

Sometimes hearing aids don’t fit as well as they ought to and that leads to feedback problems. Maybe you’ve lost weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids are older, you might have a loose fit. Getting it adjusted by the retailer is the only good remedy to this one.

Earwax And Feedback

Earwax isn’t a friend of your hearing aids. One of the main reasons that hearing aids don’t fit properly is because of the buildup of earwax on the casing. When that takes place, the device is once again loose and triggers feedback. Look in the manual that you got with your hearing aids or else check with the retailer to find out how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Just Broken

This is your next thing to consider when you’ve attempted everything else. A broken hearing aid will indeed feedback. As an example, the outer casing may be cracked. It’s unwise to try to fix the unit yourself. Make an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.

Sometimes What Sounds Like Feedback is Really Something Else Entirely

There is a chance that what you are hearing is not really feedback to begin with. Some hearing aids employ sound to warn you of impending problems like a low battery. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? If your device comes with 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 very 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.