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

Are you starting to hear an annoying high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? A very common issue with hearing aids which can probably be fixed is feedback. If you would like to get quite a bit closer to understanding why you keep getting that high pitch whistling sound, you should try to understand how your hearing aids function. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids, at their core, are actually just a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it back in your ear. When the microphone picks up the sound but prior to when it is played back by the speaker, there are some complicated functions that occur.

In order for the sound to be processed, it needs first to be transformed into an analog signal. An advanced conversion from analog to digital is then done by a signal processing microchip. The device’s advanced features and settings activate to amplify and clarify the sound.

The digital signal processor then changes the signal back to analog and sends it to a receiver. At this point, what was once a sound wave becomes an analog electrical signal and that’s not something your ears can hear. The receiver converts it back to sound waves and transmits them through your ears. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea turn it back to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

It all sounds very complicated but it takes place in about a nanosecond. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback doesn’t only happen inside of hearing aids. You hear that same high pitched noise in many sound systems which utilize a microphone. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. After coming into the microphone and getting processed, the receiver then converts 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 hearing aid doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that makes it screech.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop can be brought about by several difficulties. A very common cause is turning the hearing aid on in your hand and then putting it into your ear. Right when you push the on button, your hearing aid begins processing sound waves. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand back into the microphone causing the feedback. If your hearing aid is snuggly inside your ear before turning it on, you will have solved this particular feedback concern.

In some cases hearing aids don’t fit as well as they should and that leads to feedback. Loose fittings have a tendency to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost some weight since having them fitted. Getting an adjustment from the seller is the only good solution to this problem.

Feedback And Earwax

Hearing aids certainly have issues with earwax. Hearing aids won’t always fit well if there is earwax built up on the casing. Now, feedback is once again being triggered by a loose fit. If you consult your retailer or perhaps if you read the users-manual, you will learn how to safely clean this earwax off.

Perhaps It’s Only Broke

This is your next thing to consider when you’ve attempted everything else. Feedback can certainly be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. The casing could have a crack in it somewhere, for example. It’s unwise to try to fix it on your own. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

Hearing aids can make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are really something else. Many hearing aids use sound to warn you of impending issues such as a low battery. Pay attention to the sound. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it really sound like feedback? Consult the users-manual to see if your device includes this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Usually, the cause of the feedback is very clear regardless of what brand you own.

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