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

Is that a teakettle or is it just your hearing aids? Feedback is a common issue with hearing aids but it’s not something that you can’t have fixed. That annoying high pitched sound can be better comprehended by learning how your hearing aids function. What can be done about hearing aid feedback?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids, basically, are really just a microphone and a speaker. After a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. When the microphone picks up the sound but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some sophisticated functions that happen.

The sound is then converted into an analog electrical signal for processing after being picked up by the microphone. A high-tech digital processing chip then turns the analog signal to digital. The device’s advanced features and controls activate to amplify and clarify the sound.

The processor then transforms 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 sound waves, that the receiver converts the signal back into, are then sent through your ear canal. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea turn it back into electrical signals for the brain to understand.

It’s hard to comprehend but all of this happens in a nanosecond. Despite all of this state-of-the-art technology, the hearing aid still feeds back.

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback doesn’t just happen inside of hearing aids. You hear that same high pitched noise in most sound systems which utilize a microphone. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, goes through the processing and then the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then produced after the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. Put simply, the hearing aid is hearing itself and doesn’t like it.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are several things that might become a problem which could cause this feedback loop. 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 waves right when you hit the “on” button. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand back into the microphone creating the feedback. When your hearing aid is snuggly inside your ear before turning it on, you will have resolved this particular feedback issue.

Sometimes hearing aids don’t fit quite as well as they ought to and that can lead to feedback. Maybe you’ve lost weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids are older, you may have a loose fit. If that’s the case, you need to go back to where you got it and have the piece adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

With regards to hearing aids, earwax is in no way a friend. One of the major explanations for why hearing aids don’t fit properly is because of the accumulation of earwax on the casing. When that takes place, the device is once again loose and causes feedback. Look in the manual that you got with your hearing aids or else ask the retailer to determine how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Just Broke

When you’ve attempted everything else but the whistling continues, this is what you do next. Feedback can definitely be caused by a broken hearing aid. The casing might have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should not try to fix this damage at home. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

There is a possibility that what you are hearing is not really feedback to begin with. There are a few other things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, such as 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? Consult your users-manual to see if your device includes this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

It doesn’t make a difference what brand or style you use. Typically, the actual cause of the feedback is quite clear regardless of 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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