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

Are you beginning to hear a high pitch noise coming from your hearing aids? The common issue of feedback inside of your hearing aids can most likely be fixed. If you really want to come one step closer to understanding why you keep hearing that high pitch whistling sound, you should try to learn how your hearing aids operate. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of a hearing aid. When a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back in your ears. When the microphone picks the sound up but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some complicated functions that occur.

After the sound enters the microphone it gets translated into an electrical analog signal for processing. A sophisticated change from analog to digital is then performed by a signal processing chip. The sound is cleaned up after it becomes digital by the device’s functions and controls.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being modified back to analog by the processor. At this point, what was once a sound wave becomes an analog electrical signal and that’s not something you can hear. The sound waves, that the receiver converts the signal back to, are then transmitted through your ear canal. 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’s hard to believe but all of this takes place in a nanosecond. What happens to cause the feedback whistle, though?

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Feedback doesn’t just happen inside hearing aids. If the sound system uses a microphone, it’s likely there is some feedback. The receiver puts out sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave goes into the microphone, goes through the processing and then the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. The sound is 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 causes it to scream.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop might be brought about by several issues. A very common cause is turning the hearing aid on in your hand and then putting it in your ear. Your hearing aid starts to process sound waves right when you press the “on” button. The feedback is triggered as the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone. Before you decide to switch your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear to eliminate this particular source of feedback.

If your hearing aids aren’t fitting as well as they should, this can also trigger feedback. Loose fitting devices tend to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since you last had them fitted. If that’s the case, you should head back to the retailer and have the piece adjusted to fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

Hearing aids certainly have issues with earwax. Earwax accumulation on the outer casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting properly. Now, feedback is once again being triggered by a loose fit. If you ask your retailer or if you study the manual, you will find out how to safely clean this earwax off.

Perhaps It’s Simply Broke

If all else fails you should consider this. A broken hearing aid will indeed feedback. For instance, the outer casing might be cracked. You should not attempt to fix this damage at home. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

You might be hearing something that sounds like feedback but it’s actually not. A low battery or other potential problems can cause a warning sound in some devices. Pay attention to the sound. Is it actually a screeching noise or does it sound more like a beep? Check the manual to see if your device has this feature and what other warning sounds you should pay attention to in the future.

It doesn’t make a difference what brand or style you own. Many brands of hearing aids are going to produce it and the cause is typically very clear.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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