What’s The Explanation For All That Feedback Coming From my Hearing Aids?

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

Does your hearing aid sound a bit like a teapot these days? A very common problem with hearing aids which can probably be fixed is feedback. The annoying high pitched sound can be better understood by getting some understanding of how your hearing aids function. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids, basically, are actually just a microphone and a speaker. After a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back in your ears. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that gets a little complicated.

Because the sound is going to be further processed, it must first be changed into an electrical analog signal. A high-tech digital signal processing microchip then converts the analog signal to a digital one. Once digital, the various features and settings of the device kick in to intensify and clean up the sound.

The processor then changes the signal back to analog and transmits it to a receiver. Now, what was once a sound wave becomes an analog signal and that isn’t something your ears can hear. The receiver converts the signal back to sound waves and transmits them through your ears. 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 complicated but it takes place in about a nanosecond. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Hearing aids are not the only place that you hear feedback. Systems that include microphones normally have some degree of feedback. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, then goes through the processing and after that the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then created when the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. The system hates hearing itself over and over again and that causes it to screech.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are several things that can become a problem which could cause this feedback loop. 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. As soon as you press the on switch, your hearing aid starts to process sound waves. The feedback is produced when the sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand and right back into the microphone. If your hearing aid is snuggly inside your ear before turning it on, you will have solved this particular feedback issue.

In some cases hearing aids won’t fit quite as well as they ought to and that can lead to feedback. Loose fittings have a tendency to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since having them fitted. If that’s the case, you need to head back to the retailer and have the piece adjusted to fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

When it comes to hearing aids, earwax is in no way a friend. Hearing aids won’t always fit well if there is earwax built up on the casing. And we already learned that a loose fitting device will be the cause of feedback. Look in the manual that you got with your hearing aids or else check with the retailer to find out how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Maybe It’s Only Broken

If all else fails you need to consider this. Feedback can absolutely be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. As an example, the outer casing might be cracked. 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 could very well be hearing something that you think sounds like feedback but it’s actually not. There are a few other things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, like a low battery, which can give you a warning sound. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? If your device comes with this feature, the owners manual will tell you.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Usually, the cause of the feedback is pretty 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.