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

Does your hearing aid sound a little like a teakettle these days? Feedback is a very common issue with hearing aids but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. The aggravating high pitched sound can be better comprehended by getting some understanding of how your hearing aids operate. 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 into your ear. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that becomes complicated.

The sound is then converted into an analog signal to be processed after being picked up by the microphone. A cutting edge digital processing chip then changes the analog signal to digital. The sound is cleaned up after it becomes digital by the device’s features and controls.

The processor then changes the signal back to analog and forwards it to a receiver. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The sound waves, which the receiver converts the signal back into, are then sent 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 comprehend but all of this happens in a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it still feedback?

How do Feedback Loops Happen?

Feedback doesn’t only happen in hearing aids. You hear that same whistle in most sound systems that utilize a microphone. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave goes into the microphone, then goes through the processing and after that the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. The sound is then re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which produces a loop of feedback. The hearing aid hates hearing itself over and over again and that makes it scream.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop can be caused by several issues. If you turn on your hearing aid while it’s still in your hand before you put it in, you will get one of the most common causes. Your hearing aid starts to process sound right when you press the “on” switch. This feedback is caused when the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone. If your hearing aid is snuggly in your ear and then you turn it on, you will have resolved this particular feedback concern.

Feedback is sometimes caused when your hearing aid doesn’t fit properly. Loose fitting devices tend to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost some weight since having them fitted. Getting it adjusted by the retailer is the only good remedy to this problem.

Earwax And Feedback

Hearing aids definitely have issues with earwax. Earwax accumulation on the casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting properly. Now, feedback is again being caused by a loose fit. If you get in touch with your retailer or if you study the manual, you will learn how to safely clean this earwax off.

Maybe It’s Only Broke

This is your next thing to think about when you’ve tried everything else. A damaged hearing aid will definitely feedback. The casing might have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should not attempt to fix this damage at home. Make an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

You may well be hearing something that sounds like feedback but it’s really not. There are things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, such as a low battery, which will give a warning sound. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it actually a screeching 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.

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

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