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

Does your hearing aid sound a little like a teakettle these days? A very common concern with hearing aids which can most likely be fixed is feedback. The irritating high pitched sound can be better comprehended by getting some understanding of how your hearing aids work. What can be done about hearing aid feedback?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

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

Once a sound wave is picked up by the microphone it is converted into an electrical analog signal to be further processed. A sophisticated change from analog to digital is then performed by a signal processing chip. Once the signal is converted to digital, the various features and settings of the device activate to intensify and clarify the sound.

The digital signal processor then changes the signal back to analog and forwards it to a receiver. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The receiver converts the signal back to sound waves and sends them through your ear canal. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea translate it back to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

This all sounds quite complicated but it 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 find feedback. If the sound system uses a microphone, chances are there is some amount of feedback. The receiver generates sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, then goes through the processing and then the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. The sound is re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which creates a loop of feedback. Put simply, the hearing aid is listening to itself and it doesn’t like it.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop might be brought about by several issues. One of the most common causes is turning the hearing aid on in your hand and then putting it into your ear. As soon as you press the on button, your hearing aid begins processing sound waves. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone creating the feedback. If your hearing aid is snuggly inside of your ear before turning it on, you will have solved this particular feedback hassle.

Sometimes hearing aids won’t fit as well as they ought to and that leads to feedback. Loose fitting devices have a tendency to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since you last had them fitted. If that’s the case, you need to go back to where you got it and have the piece re-adjusted to fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

Earwax isn’t a friend of hearing aids. Earwax buildup on the outer casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting right. When that happens, the device is once again loose and produces feedback. Look in the manual that you got with your hearing aids or else consult the retailer to determine how to clean earwax off safely.

Maybe It’s Simply Broken

This is your next thing to start thinking about when you’ve attempted everything else. A damaged hearing aid will indeed feedback. The casing could have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should not attempt to fix this at home. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to get it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

There is a possibility that what you are hearing is not feedback to begin with. There are things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, like a low battery, which will give you a warning sound. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? Check your users-manual to see if your device includes this feature and what other warnings you should listen for in the future.

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

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.
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