I Hear Feedback in my Hearing Aids, Why is That?

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

Is that a teakettle or is that just your hearing aids? A very common problem with hearing aids which can probably be corrected is feedback. The aggravating high pitched noise can be better comprehended by learning how your hearing aids function. So 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. When a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. When the microphone picks up the sound but prior to when it gets played back by the speaker, there are some complicated functions that occur.

Because the sound is going to be further processed, it must first be changed into an electrical analog signal. The analog version is then translated into digital by the device’s processor. The sound is clarified after becoming digital by the device’s features and settings.

The signal is sent to a receiver after being changed back to analog by the processor. At this point, what was once a sound becomes an analog signal and that isn’t something your ears can hear. The receiver converts the signal back into sound waves and sends them through your ear canal. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea translate it back to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

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

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback doesn’t only happen inside of hearing aids. You hear that same whistle in most sound systems which use a microphone. In essence, the microphone is picking up sound which is coming from the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave enters the microphone, goes through the processing and after that the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. The sound is then re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which brings about a loop of feedback. The hearing aid doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that makes it screech.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop might be created by several issues. A very common cause is turning the hearing aid on while it’s still in your hand and then putting it in your ear. As soon as you press the on button, your hearing aid starts to process sound. The feedback is produced as the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off your hand and right back into the microphone. When your hearing aid is snuggly inside your ear and then you turn it on, you will have solved this particular feedback hassle.

Occasionally hearing aids don’t fit as well as they ought to and that leads to feedback. Maybe you’ve lost some weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids are older, you may have a loose fit. Getting an adjustment from the retailer is the only good solution to this one.

Feedback And Earwax

With regards to hearing aids, earwax is in no way a friend. Earwax accumulation on the outer casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting right. When that takes place, the device becomes loose again and triggers feedback. Read the manual that came with your hearing aids or else consult the retailer to learn exactly how to clean earwax off safely.

Perhaps It’s Simply Broken

When you’ve attempted everything else but the feedback continues, this is what you do next. Feedback will absolutely be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. For example, the outer casing might be cracked. It’s unwise to try to fix it yourself. Make an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

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

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

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.