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

Is that a teakettle or is it just your hearing aids? The widespread problem of feedback in your hearing aids can possibly be corrected. If you really want to get quite a bit closer to knowing why you keep getting that high pitch whistling sound, you need to learn how your hearing aids work. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

At their core, hearing aids are just a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it into your ear. But there are complex functions in between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

The sound is then translated into an analog signal to be processed after entering the microphone. A high-tech digital processing chip then turns the analog signal to a digital one. The device’s advanced properties and controls activate to amplify and clarify the sound.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being modified back to analog by the processor. At this stage, what was once a sound becomes an analog signal and that’s not something you can hear. The receiver converts the signal back to sound waves and sends them through your ear canal. Elements in the cochlea convert it back into an electrical signal that the brain can understand.

Incredibly all of this complicated functionality takes place in a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it still feedback?

How do Feedback Loops Happen?

Hearing aids are not the only place that you notice feedback. If the sound system uses a microphone, chances are there is some amount of feedback. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave goes into the microphone, then goes through the processing and then the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then produced when the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. The system hates hearing itself over and over again and that makes it screech.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are a number of things that can become a problem which could create this feedback loop. 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 starts to process sound waves as soon as you hit the “on” switch. The feedback is triggered as the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone. Before you switch your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear to eliminate this particular source of feedback.

If your hearing aids don’t fit that well, this can also lead to feedback. If you have lost some weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids are older, you might have a loose fit. Getting an adjustment from the seller is the only good answer to this problem.

Feedback And Earwax

Earwax isn’t a friend when it comes to hearing aids. One of the major reasons that hearing aids don’t fit right is because of the buildup of earwax on the casing. And we are already aware that a loose fitting device can be the cause of feedback. Read the manual that you got with your hearing aids or else contact the retailer to find out exactly how to clean earwax off safely.

Perhaps It’s Just Broke

When you’ve attempted everything else but the feedback continues, this is what you do next. Feedback can definitely be caused by a damaged hearing aid. The casing may have a crack in it somewhere, for example. Don’t try and fix the unit on your own. Make an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

Hearing aids can make other noises that sound like feedback but are in fact something else. Some hearing aids employ sound to alert you of impending issues such as a low battery. Pay attention to the sound. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? Check your users-manual to find out if your device has this feature and what other warnings you should listen for in the future.

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

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