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

Does your hearing aid sound a little like a teapot these days? A very common problem with hearing aids which can most likely be fixed is feedback. Knowing how hearing aids function and what might be the reason for that incessant whistling sound will get you one step closer to eradicating it. So what can you do about it?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

As a basic rule, hearing aids are just a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it back into your ear. When the microphone picks up the sound but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some complex functions that occur.

The sound is then converted to an analog electrical signal to be processed after being picked up by the microphone. A state of the art digital processing microchip then turns the analog signal to a digital one. The device’s sophisticated properties and settings activate to amplify and clean up the sound.

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

This all sounds very complicated but it takes place in about a nanosecond. In spite of all of this advanced technology, the device still has feedback.

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Feedback doesn’t only happen in hearing aids. Systems that include microphones usually have some level of feedback. The receiver puts out sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. After entering the microphone and getting processed, the receiver then turns 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 system hates 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 created by several difficulties. If you turn your hearing aid on in your hand prior to putting it in, you will get one of the most common causes. Your hearing aid begins processing sound waves as soon as you hit the “on” button. The feedback is produced as the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off of your hand and then right back into the microphone. If your hearing aid is snuggly inside of your ear before turning it on, you will have resolved this particular feedback hassle.

Occasionally hearing aids won’t fit quite as well as they should and that leads to feedback problems. Loose fitting devices tend to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since having them fitted. Getting it adjusted by the seller is the only real remedy to this problem.

Feedback And Earwax

With regards to hearing aids, earwax is not a friend. Hearing aids won’t always fit well if there is an accumulation of earwax on them. When that takes place, the device becomes loose again and triggers feedback. Read the manual that you got with your hearing aids or else ask the retailer to learn how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Maybe It’s Just Broke

When you’ve attempted everything else but the feedback continues, this is where you head next. Feedback will 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 at home. Instead, take it in for expert repair.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

There is a chance that what you are hearing is actually not feedback at all. There are a few other things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, like a low battery, which will give a warning sound. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? Check your manual to find out if your device comes with this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

It doesn’t matter what brand or style you have. Typically, the actual cause of the feedback is quite clear no matter what brand you have.

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