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

Does your hearing aid sound a bit like a teakettle right now? A very common issue with hearing aids which can probably be corrected is feedback. If you really want to come quite a bit closer to knowing why you keep getting that high pitch whistling sound, you should try to learn how your hearing aids function. But exactly what can be done?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

As a basic rule, hearing aids are simply a microphone and a speaker. After a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back in your ears. But there are complex functions between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

In order for the sound to be processed, it must first be turned into an analog signal. The analog form is then translated into a digital signal by the device’s processor. The device’s sophisticated features and controls activate to amplify and clean up the sound.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being changed back to analog by the processor. It’s not possible to hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The waves of sound, which the receiver converts the signal back into, are then transmitted through your ears. Elements in the cochlea turn it back into an electrical signal that the brain can understand.

It’s hard to believe but all of this happens in a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it still feedback?

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Hearing aids are not the only place where you hear feedback. You hear that same whistle in the majority of sound systems which employ a microphone. The receiver puts out sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. After entering the microphone and getting processed, the receiver then turns the signal back into a sound wave. The sound is then re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which creates a loop of feedback. The system doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that makes it screech.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are several things that could go wrong to create this feedback loop. If you turn your hearing aid on in your hand before you put it in, you will get a very common cause. As soon as you press the on button, your hearing aid begins processing sound. The feedback is triggered when the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off of your hand and back into the microphone. When your hearing aid is snuggly in your ear and then you turn it on, you will have solved this particular feedback concern.

Feedback is sometimes caused when your hearing aid isn’t fitting properly. Loose fitting devices tend to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost some weight since you last had them fitted. Getting an adjustment from the seller is the only real remedy to this one.

Earwax And Feedback

Hearing aids definitely have issues with earwax. Hearing aids usually won’t fit well if there is earwax built up on the casing. And we already know that a loose fitting device can be the cause of feedback. Read the manual that you got with your hearing aids or else check with the retailer to learn how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Maybe It’s Simply Broke

If all else fails you need to consider this. Feedback will absolutely be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. The casing may have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should never try to fix this damage at home. Make an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

Sometimes What Sounds Like Feedback is Actually Something Else Altogether

You may well be hearing something that sounds like feedback but it’s really not. There are a few other things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, like a low battery, which can give a warning sound. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? If your device comes with this feature, the owners 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.

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