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

Are you beginning to hear an annoying high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? Feedback is a common issue with hearing aids but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. The aggravating high pitched noise can be better grasped by learning how your hearing aids function. But exactly what can you do about it?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of hearing aid technology. The speaker plays back the sound into your ear which the microphone picks up. When the microphone picks up the sound but prior to when it gets played back by the speaker, there are some complex functions that occur.

Once a sound wave is picked up by the microphone it gets converted into an analog signal to be further processed. A sophisticated change from analog to digital is then carried out by a signal processing chip. The sound is cleaned up after becoming digital by the device’s functions and controls.

The digital signal processor then transforms the signal back to analog and forwards it to a receiver. It’s not possible to hear these electrical signals which were once a sound. 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.

Amazingly all of this complex functionality takes place in a nanosecond. In spite of all of this sophisticated technology, the device still feeds back.

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback doesn’t only happen inside hearing aids. If the sound system uses a microphone, most likely there is some feedback. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. After coming into the microphone and getting processed, the receiver then turns the signal back into a sound wave. The microphone then picks up that sound wave again and amplifies it creating the feedback loop. Simply put, the hearing aid is hearing itself and it doesn’t like it.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are several things that can 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. As soon as you press the on switch, your hearing aid starts to process sound. The sound being produced by the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone generating 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 lead to feedback. Loose fittings tend to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since having them fitted. Getting an adjustment from the retailer is the only good answer to this one.

Earwax And Feedback

Earwax isn’t a friend of your hearing aids. Hearing aids won’t always fit right if there is an accumulation of earwax on them. Now, feedback is again being triggered by a poor fit. Look in the manual that came with your hearing aids or else ask the retailer to learn how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Maybe It’s Just Broken

This is your next thing to consider when you’ve tried everything else. Feedback can certainly be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. For example, the outer casing might be cracked. You should not try to fix this damage at home. Instead take it in for professional repair.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

You might be hearing something that sounds like feedback but it’s really not. A low battery or maybe even other possible issues will cause a warning sound in many devices. Listen to the sound. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? If your device has this feature, the owners manual will tell you.

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

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