Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

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

Are you beginning to hear an annoying high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? The widespread issue of feedback in your hearing aids can possibly be corrected. If you would like to get one step closer to understanding why you keep getting that high pitch whistling noise, you should try to learn how your hearing aids function. What can be done about hearing aid feedback?

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 back into your ear. When the microphone picks the sound up but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some sophisticated functions that happen.

The sound is translated into an analog electrical signal to be processed after entering the microphone. A state of the art digital signal processing chip then changes the analog signal to digital. Once the signal is converted to digital, the numerous features and settings of the hearing aids start working to intensify and clean up the sound.

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

It’s hard to believe but all of this takes place in around a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it feedback?

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Feedback doesn’t exclusively happen inside hearing aids. Sound systems that include microphones usually have some degree of feedback. The receiver puts out sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. After coming into the microphone and being processed, the receiver then transforms the signal back into a sound wave. The microphone then picks up that same sound wave again and amplifies it generating the feedback loop. Put simply, the hearing aid is listening to itself and doesn’t like it.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop may be brought about by several difficulties. 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 begins processing sound. The sound being produced by the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone generating the feedback. The solution to this issue is pretty simple; wait until the device is inside your ear before hitting the switch.

If your hearing aids don’t fit that well, this can also lead to feedback. Loose fitting devices have a tendency to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost some weight since you last had them fitted. Getting it adjusted by the seller is the only real answer to this problem.

Feedback And Earwax

Hearing aids absolutely have problems with earwax. Hearing aids won’t always fit right if there is earwax built up on the casing. Now, feedback is again being caused by a poor fit. Look in the manual that you got with your hearing aids or check with the retailer to determine exactly how to clean earwax off safely.

Perhaps It’s Just Broken

When you’ve attempted everything else but the whistling continues, this is where you head next. Feedback can definitely be caused by a broken hearing aid. The casing could have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should not try to fix this damage at home. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to have it fixed.

Sometimes What Sounds Like Feedback is Actually Something Else Altogether

Hearing aids can make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are really something else. A low battery or perhaps other possible problems will 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? Consult your users-manual to see if your device has this feature and what other warning sounds you should pay attention to in the future.

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

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