Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

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

Does your hearing aid sound a bit like a teapot right now? The common issue of feedback inside of your hearing aids can possibly be corrected. If you really want to come one step closer to knowing why you keep hearing that high pitch whistling sound, you need to understand how your hearing aids work. But exactly what can you do about it?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids, at their core, 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. But there are advanced functions between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

Because the sound is going to be further processed, it needs first to be changed into an electrical analog signal. The analog version is then converted into a digital signal by the device’s digital signal processor. The sound is clarified after it becomes digital by the device’s features and settings.

The digital signal processor then changes the signal back to analog and transmits it to a receiver. At this stage, what was once a sound wave becomes an analog electrical signal and that’s not something you can hear. The receiver converts the signal 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 to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

Surprisingly all of this complex functionality happens in a nanosecond. In spite of all of this state-of-the-art technology, the hearing aid still has feedback.

How do Feedback Loops Happen?

Feedback doesn’t exclusively happen inside of hearing aids. If there is a microphone, most 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 microphone starts to pick up that sound wave again and amplifies it generating the feedback loop. The system hates hearing itself over and over again and that makes it scream.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are a number of things that could become a problem which could create this feedback loop. If you turn on your hearing aid while it’s still in your hand prior to putting it in, you will get one of the most common causes. Your hearing aid starts to process sound waves as soon as you hit the “on” button. The sound being produced by the receiver bounces off your hand back into the microphone triggering the feedback. Before you decide to switch your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear to eliminate this particular source of feedback.

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

Feedback And Earwax

Earwax isn’t a friend of hearing aids. Hearing aids won’t always fit right if there is earwax built up on the casing. And we already know that a loose fitting device will cause feedback. If you get in touch with your retailer or perhaps if you read the manual, you will learn how to safely clean this earwax off.

Perhaps It’s Simply Broke

When you’ve tried everything else but the whistling continues, this is where you head next. Feedback can absolutely be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. For example, the outer casing might be cracked. You should not attempt to fix this at home. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to get it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

Hearing aids can make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are really something else. Many hearing aids employ sound to warn you of imminent issues such as a low battery. Listen to the sound. Is it really a screeching noise or does it sound more like a beep? Consult the users-manual to see if your device has this feature and what other warnings you should listen for in the future.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Many brands of hearing aids are capable of producing it and the cause is usually quite 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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