Hearing Health Blog

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

Is that a teapot or is it just your hearing aids? The common problem of feedback in your hearing aids can most likely be fixed. If you want to get quite a bit closer to understanding why you keep getting that high pitch whistling sound, you should try to understand how your hearing aids work. So what can you do about it?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids, basically, are actually just a microphone and a speaker. The speaker plays the sound into your ear which the microphone picks up. When the microphone picks the sound up but before it gets played back by the speaker, there are some complex functions that happen.

The sound is then changed into an analog signal for processing after being picked up by the microphone. The analog version is then translated into digital by the device’s processor. The sound is cleaned up after it becomes digital by the device’s features and settings.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being modified back to analog by the processor. At this stage, what was once a sound wave becomes an analog signal and that’s not something your ears can hear. The sound waves, that the receiver changes 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 into electrical signals for the brain to understand.

This all sounds very complex but it takes place in a nanosecond. Despite all of this sophisticated technology, the device still has feedback.

Feedback Loops And How They 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. After coming into the microphone and being processed, the receiver then converts the signal back into a sound wave. The microphone starts to pick up that sound wave again and amplifies it producing the feedback loop. Put simply, the hearing aid is hearing itself and it doesn’t like it.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are a number of things that could go wrong to 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. Your hearing aid begins processing sound waves as soon as you hit the “on” button. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand back into the microphone generating the feedback. The solution to this difficulty is quite simple; you should wait until the hearing aid is snuggly in your ear before pressing the switch.

Sometimes hearing aids won’t fit as well as they should and that can lead to feedback problems. Maybe you’ve lost some weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids a bit older, you may have a loose fit. If that’s the case, you need to go back to where you got it and have the piece re-adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

Earwax isn’t a friend when it comes to hearing aids. Earwax accumulation on the outer casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting properly. When that takes place, the device becomes loose again and causes feedback. If you get in touch with your retailer or perhaps if you read the manual, you will determine how to safely clean this earwax off.

Maybe It’s Simply Broke

This is your next thing to consider when you’ve tried everything else. Feedback can certainly be caused by a broken hearing aid. The casing may have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should never attempt to fix this at home. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

There is a chance that what you are hearing is actually not really feedback to begin with. Some hearing aids employ sound to warn you of imminent issues like a low battery. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? If your device has this feature, the owners manual will tell you.

It doesn’t matter what brand or style you have. Typically, the actual cause of the feedback is quite clear regardless of what brand you own.

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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