Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

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

Are you starting to hear a high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? The well-known problem of feedback inside of your hearing aids can most likely be fixed. Knowing how hearing aids function and what might be the reason for that incessant high pitched whistling noise will get you one step closer to eliminating it. What can you do about hearing aid feedback?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

At their core, hearing aids are just a microphone and a speaker. After a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. When the microphone picks up the sound but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some intricate functions that happen.

Once a sound wave enters the microphone it is transformed to an analog signal to be further processed. The analog version is then translated into a digital signal by the device’s processor. The sound is clarified after it becomes digital by the device’s functions and settings.

The signal is sent to a receiver after being modified back to analog by the digital signal processor. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The sound waves, which the receiver converts the signal back to, are then sent through your ears. Elements in the cochlea turn it back into an electrical signal that the brain can interpret.

It’s hard to believe but all of this takes place in around a nanosecond. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

How do Feedback Loops Happen?

Feedback happens in other systems besides hearing aids. 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 going into the microphone and getting processed, the receiver then turns the signal back into a sound wave. The sound is then re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which produces a loop of feedback. Put simply, the hearing aid is listening to itself and doesn’t like it.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are quite a few things that might go wrong to create this feedback loop. A very common cause 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. This feedback is produced when the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off of your hand and then right back into the microphone. If your hearing aid is snuggly in your ear before turning it on, you will have resolved this particular feedback issue.

Feedback is sometimes caused when your hearing aid isn’t fitting properly. Maybe you’ve lost some weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids a bit older, you may have a loose fit. In that case, you need to go back to the retailer and have the piece re-adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

Earwax isn’t a friend of hearing aids. One of the main explanations for why hearing aids don’t fit right is because of the accumulation of earwax on the casing. And we already know that a loose fitting device will cause feedback. If you consult your retailer or maybe if you study the users-manual, you will find out how to safely clean this earwax off.

Perhaps It’s Only Broken

This is your next thing to consider when you’ve tried everything else. Feedback can certainly be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. The casing might have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should not attempt to fix this damage at home. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to get it fixed.

Occasionally What Sounds Like Feedback is Really Something Else Entirely

There is a possibility that what you are hearing is actually not feedback to begin with. A low battery or maybe even other potential issues 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 really sound like feedback? Check your users-manual to find out if your device includes this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

It doesn’t make a difference what brand or style you own. Many brands of hearing aids are capable of producing it and the cause is usually very clear.

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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