Bright Audiology - Sanford, NC

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

Is that a teapot or is that just your hearing aids? The well-known problem of feedback in your hearing aids can possibly be corrected. Knowing how hearing aids work and what might be the reason for that incessant whistling sound will get you one step closer to eradicating it. But exactly what can be done?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

At their core, hearing aids are just a microphone and a speaker. When a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that gets a little complicated.

Once a sound wave is picked up by the microphone it is transformed into an analog signal for processing. A cutting edge digital processing chip then converts the analog signal to digital. Once digital, the numerous features and controls of the device start working to intensify and clean up the sound.

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

Amazingly all of this complex functionality takes place in a nanosecond. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

How do Feedback Loops Happen?

Feedback occurs in other systems besides hearing aids. Systems that include microphones commonly have some level of feedback. The receiver puts out sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave goes into the microphone, then goes through the signal processing and then the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. The microphone then picks up that sound wave again and amplifies it generating the feedback loop. The hearing aid hates hearing itself over and over again and that causes it to screech.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are several things that might become a problem which could cause this feedback loop. If you turn on your hearing aid while it’s still in your hand before you put it in, you will get a very common cause. Your hearing aid starts to process sound waves as soon as you hit the “on” button. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand back into the microphone causing the feedback. Before you switch your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear to eliminate this source of feedback.

If your hearing aids don’t fit that well, this can also trigger feedback. If you have lost weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids a bit older, you may have a loose fit. Getting an adjustment from the seller is the only real solution to this problem.

Feedback And Earwax

Hearing aids definitely have issues with earwax. Earwax buildup on the outer casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting properly. Now, feedback is again being caused by a poor fit. If you get in touch with your retailer or if you read the manual, you will find out how to safely clean this earwax off.

Maybe It’s Only Broken

This is your next thing to consider when you’ve tried everything else. Feedback will absolutely be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. As an example, the outer casing may be cracked. It’s unwise to try and fix the unit on your own. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to get it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

Hearing aids will make other noises that sound like feedback but are really something else. Some hearing aids use sound to warn you of impending problems such as a low battery. Listen closely to the sound. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? If your device includes this feature, the owners manual will tell you.

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

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