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

Is that a teapot or is that just your hearing aids? Feedback is a common problem with hearing aids but it’s not something that you can’t have fixed. That 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?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

At their core, hearing aids are just a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it in your ear. But there are intricate functions between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

Once a sound wave enters the microphone it is translated into an analog signal for processing. An advanced change from analog to digital is then carried out by a signal processing chip. The sound is cleaned up after it becomes digital by the device’s features and settings.

The digital signal processor then transforms the signal back to analog and transmits it to a receiver. It’s not possible to hear these electrical signals which were once a sound. The receiver converts the signal back to sound waves and sends them 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.

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

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback doesn’t only happen inside hearing aids. If there is a microphone, it’s likely there is some amount of feedback. The receiver puts out sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, goes through the processing and then the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. The sound is then re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which produces a loop of feedback. The system hates hearing itself over and over again and that causes it to scream.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are a number of things that can go wrong to create this feedback loop. If you turn your hearing aid on in your hand prior to putting it in, you will get a very common cause. Your hearing aid starts to process sound right when you hit the “on” button. This feedback is triggered as the sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and right back into the microphone. If your hearing aid is snuggly in your ear before turning it on, you will have eliminated this particular feedback problem.

If your hearing aids don’t fit that well, this can also lead to feedback. Maybe you’ve lost weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids a bit older, you may have a loose fit. Getting an adjustment from the retailer is the only real remedy to this problem.

Feedback And Earwax

Earwax isn’t a friend of hearing aids. Earwax accumulation on the outer casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting properly. When that happens, the device is once again loose and triggers feedback. Look in the manual that you got with your hearing aids or ask the retailer to find out how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Simply Broken

This is your next thing to think about when you’ve tried everything else. Feedback can definitely be caused by a broken hearing aid. The casing might have a crack in it somewhere, for example. It’s unwise to try and fix the unit yourself. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

Sometimes What Sounds Like Feedback is Really Something Else Altogether

Hearing aids will make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are in fact something else. A low battery or perhaps other possible issues can cause a warning sound in some devices. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? Check the manual to see if your device includes this feature and what other warnings you should listen for in the future.

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

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