Hearing Care Specialists - Hopkins, Glencoe, and Watertown, MN

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

Is that a teakettle or is it just your hearing aids? The well-known problem of feedback in your hearing aids can most likely be fixed. Understanding exactly how hearing aids operate and what might be the reason for that annoying whistling will get you a little closer to eliminating it. What can be done about hearing aid feedback?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of a hearing aid. After a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. When the microphone picks the sound up but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some intricate functions that happen.

Once a sound wave enters the microphone it gets modified to an analog signal to be further processed. A cutting edge digital signal processing microchip then changes the analog signal to a digital one. Once digital, the various features and settings of the device start working to amplify and clarify 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 wave becomes an analog signal and that’s not something you can hear. The receiver converts it back into sound waves and sends 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.

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 still feedback?

How do Feedback Loops Happen?

Feedback doesn’t just happen inside of hearing aids. You hear that same whistle in most sound systems which utilize a microphone. Basically, the microphone is picking up sound that is coming from the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave goes into the microphone, goes through the processing and then the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then produced 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?

A feedback loop may be brought about by several difficulties. If you turn your hearing aid on in your hand before you put it in, you will get one of the most common causes. Your hearing aid starts to process sound waves as soon as you press the “on” button. The feedback is triggered when the sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone. The answer to this difficulty is very simple; you should wait until the hearing aid is snuggly in your ear before hitting the switch.

Feedback can also be caused when your hearing aid isn’t fitting as well as it should. Maybe you’ve lost weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids are older, you may have a loose fit. In that case, you should head back to where you got it and have the piece re-adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

Hearing aids certainly have problems with earwax. Hearing aids usually won’t fit right if there is an accumulation of earwax on them. And we are already aware that a loose fitting device will cause feedback. Read the manual that came with your hearing aids or else ask the retailer to learn how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Maybe It’s Simply Broke

This is your next thing to start thinking about when you’ve tried everything else. A broken hearing aid will indeed cause feedback. The casing may have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should never try to fix this at home. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to get it fixed.

Sometimes What Sounds Like Feedback is Really Something Else Altogether

There is a possibility that what you are hearing is not really feedback to begin with. A low battery or other possible problems will cause a warning sound in many devices. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it really a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? Consult your manual to see if your device includes this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Usually, the cause of the feedback is pretty clear no matter what brand you own.

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