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

Are you beginning to hear a high pitch noise coming from your hearing aids? The widespread problem of feedback in your hearing aids can most likely be fixed. Knowing exactly how hearing aids operate and what is behind that constant whistling will get you one step closer to eliminating it. But exactly what can be done?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids, at their core, are really simply a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it in your ear. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that becomes complicated.

The sound is then modified to an analog electrical signal to be processed after being picked up by the microphone. An advanced transformation from analog to digital is then done by a signal processing chip. Once the signal is converted to digital, the various features and settings of the hearing aids activate to amplify and clean up the sound.

The processor then transforms the signal back to analog and forwards it to a receiver. At this stage, what was once a sound wave becomes an analog signal and that isn’t something you can hear. The receiver converts the signal back to sound waves and transmits 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.

It all sounds quite complicated but it takes place in about a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it feedback?

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Feedback occurs in other systems besides hearing aids. You hear that same whistle in the majority of sound systems which utilize a microphone. Basically, the microphone is picking up sound that is coming from the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave enters the microphone, then goes through the signal processing and after that the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. The sound is then re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which produces a loop of feedback. The hearing aid hates hearing itself over and over again and that makes it screech.

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 while it’s still in your hand and then putting it into your ear. Your hearing aid begins processing sound right when you hit the “on” switch. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone creating the feedback. When your hearing aid is snuggly inside of your ear before turning it on, you will have resolved this particular feedback issue.

If your hearing aids don’t fit that well, this can also trigger feedback. Loose fitting devices tend to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since having them fitted. If that’s the case, you need to head back to the retailer and have the piece adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

Earwax isn’t a friend of your hearing aids. Hearing aids usually won’t fit well if there is earwax built up on the casing. When that happens, the device becomes loose again and causes feedback. Look in the manual that you got with your hearing aids or check with the retailer to determine exactly how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Maybe It’s Only Broken

This is your next thing to consider when you’ve tried everything else. Feedback can definitely be caused by a damaged hearing aid. As an example, the outer casing might be cracked. Don’t try to fix the unit on your own. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

Hearing aids will make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are really something else. Many hearing aids employ sound to alert you of imminent issues like a low battery. Pay attention to the sound. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? Check the users-manual to see if your device comes with this feature and what other warnings you should listen for in the future.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Many brands of hearing aids are capable of producing it and the cause is typically very clear.

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