Robby Young's Hearing Aid Center - Coachella Valley, CA

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 most likely be fixed. Knowing exactly how hearing aids work and what is behind that constant whistling will get you a little closer to eradicating it. But exactly what can you do about it?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

As a basic rule, hearing aids are simply a microphone and a speaker. The speaker plays the sound into your ear which the microphone picks up. But there are advanced functions in between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

The sound is then transformed to an analog signal for processing after entering the microphone. The analog version is then translated into digital by the device’s digital signal processor. Once the signal is converted to digital, the various features and controls of the hearing aids start working to amplify and clean up the sound.

The digital signal processor then changes the signal back to analog and sends it to a receiver. You’re ears don’t 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 translate it back to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

It’s hard to believe but all of this takes place in around a nanosecond. In spite of all of this advanced technology, the hearing aid still feeds back.

How do Feedback Loops Happen?

Feedback doesn’t just happen inside hearing aids. You hear that same whistle in most sound systems which use a microphone. The receiver puts out sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, goes through the signal processing and then the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then created when the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. The system doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that makes it scream.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are quite a few things that might go wrong to 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 right when you hit the “on” button. The sound being produced by the receiver bounces off your hand back into the microphone creating the feedback. When your hearing aid is snuggly inside of your ear and then you turn it on, you will have solved this particular feedback issue.

In some cases hearing aids don’t fit as well as they should and that leads to feedback problems. Maybe you’ve lost weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids a bit older, you might have a loose fit. If that’s the case, you should go back to where you got it and have the piece re-adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

Hearing aids certainly have problems with earwax. One of the major reasons that hearing aids don’t fit properly is because of the buildup of earwax on the casing. And we already learned that a loose fitting device will cause feedback. Read the manual that came with your hearing aids or else check with the retailer to find out exactly how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Only Broke

When you’ve attempted everything else but the feedback continues, this is where you head next. Feedback can certainly be caused by a damaged hearing aid. For instance, the outer casing might be cracked. You should not attempt to fix this damage at home. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to have it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

Hearing aids will make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are really something else. A low battery or other potential problems can cause a warning sound in some devices. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it really sound like feedback? If your device includes this feature, the manual will tell you.

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

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