My Hearing Aids Are Starting to Feed Back But I’m Not Sure Why

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

Is that a teapot or is it just your hearing aids? Feedback is a very common issue with hearing aids but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. If you really want to come one step closer to understanding why you keep hearing that high pitch whistling noise, you should try to understand how your hearing aids operate. So what can you do about it?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids, basically, are really simply a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it back into your ear. But there are intricate functions in between when the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

Once a sound wave enters the microphone it gets transformed to an analog signal for processing. The analog version is then translated into a digital signal by the device’s processor. The device’s sophisticated 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 digital signal processor. It’s not possible to hear these electrical signals which were once a sound. The sound waves, which 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 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. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback happens in other sound systems besides hearing aids. Sound systems that come with microphones normally have some degree of feedback. Basically, the microphone is collecting sound that is coming from the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave enters the microphone, then goes through the signal processing and then the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then created when the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. The hearing aid doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that causes it to scream.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop might be caused by several difficulties. If you turn on your hearing aid while it’s still in your hand before you put it in, you will get a very common cause. Your hearing aid starts to process sound waves right when you hit the “on” switch. This feedback is produced when the sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand and right back into the microphone. When your hearing aid is snuggly in your ear and then you turn it on, you will have resolved this particular feedback issue.

Sometimes hearing aids won’t fit as well as they should and that leads to feedback problems. Loose fitting devices tend to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since you last had them fitted. In that case, you should head back to the retailer and have the piece adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

When it comes to hearing aids, earwax is in no way a friend. One of the major reasons that hearing aids don’t fit properly is because of the buildup of earwax on the casing. Now, feedback is once again being triggered by a loose fit. Look in the manual that came with your hearing aids or contact the retailer to determine how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Simply Broke

If everything else fails you need to take this into consideration. Feedback can certainly be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. The casing may have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should never attempt 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 Really Something Else Entirely

You may well be hearing something that sounds like feedback but it’s actually not. A low battery or other potential problems will cause a warning sound in many devices. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? If your device has this feature, the manual will tell you.

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

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