I Hear Feedback in my Hearing Aids, Why is That?
The Hearing Clinic - Scarborough, ON

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

Are you starting to hear a high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? Feedback is a very common concern with hearing aids but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. That annoying high pitched sound can be better grasped by getting some understanding of 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. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it into your ear. When the microphone picks the sound up but before it gets played back by the speaker, there are some intricate functions that happen.

The sound is transformed to an analog signal to be processed after being picked up by the microphone. A state of the art digital signal processing microchip then changes the analog signal to digital. The device’s advanced features and controls activate to amplify and clarify the sound.

The processor then changes the signal back to analog and sends it to a receiver. At this point, what was once a sound becomes an analog signal and that’s not 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.

It’s hard to believe but all of this 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 where you notice feedback. If the sound system uses a microphone, it is likely that there is some feedback. The receiver generates sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, then goes through the signal processing and after that the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. The microphone then picks up that sound wave again and amplifies it creating the feedback loop. Simply put, the hearing aid is listening to itself and doesn’t like it.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are quite a few things that can become a problem which could create this feedback loop. One of the most common causes is turning the hearing aid on in your hand and then putting it in your ear. Right when you push the on switch, your hearing aid starts to process sound waves. The sound being produced by the receiver bounces off your hand back into the microphone producing the feedback. Before you switch your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear and you will eliminate this particular source of feedback.

Sometimes hearing aids don’t fit quite as well as they ought to and that leads to feedback problems. If you have lost weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids are older, you might have a loose fit. If that’s the case, you should go back to the retailer and have the piece adjusted to fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

Hearing aids definitely have issues with earwax. Earwax buildup on the casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting properly. When that happens, the device is once again loose and triggers feedback. If you ask your retailer or maybe if you read the manual, you will learn how to safely clean this earwax off.

Perhaps It’s Only Broken

If all else fails you need to take this into consideration. A damaged hearing aid will definitely cause feedback. The casing could have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should not try to fix this damage at home. Take it in for professional repair.

Occasionally What Sounds Like Feedback is Really Something Else Entirely

You could be hearing something that sounds like feedback but it’s actually not. There are a few other things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, such as a low battery, which will give you a warning sound. Pay attention to the sound. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it really sound like feedback? Consult your manual to find out if your device comes with this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Usually, the actual cause of the feedback is very clear regardless of what brand you have.

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