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Enhanced Hearing Center - Springfield, MO

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

Are you starting to hear an annoying high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? The common problem of feedback inside of your hearing aids can possibly be fixed. If you really want to come quite a bit closer to understanding why you keep hearing that high pitch whistling noise, you should try to understand how your hearing aids operate. What can you do about hearing aid feedback?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of a hearing aid. When a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back in your ears. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that gets a little complicated.

The sound is then converted to an analog electrical signal to be processed after entering the microphone. The analog rendition is then translated into digital by the device’s digital signal processor. The sound is clarified after becoming digital by the device’s features and controls.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being modified back to analog by the digital signal processor. At this stage, what was once a sound becomes an analog electrical signal and that isn’t something your ears can hear. The receiver converts it back to sound waves and transmits 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 all sounds quite complex but it happens in a nanosecond. In spite of all of this state-of-the-art technology, the hearing aid still has feedback.

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback occurs in other sound systems besides hearing aids. Systems that come with microphones usually have some amount of feedback. Basically, the microphone is picking up sound that is produced by the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave goes into the microphone, then goes through the processing and then the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. The sound is re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which produces a loop of feedback. The system doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that makes it scream.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are quite a few things that could 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 starts to process sound as soon as you hit the “on” switch. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone generating the feedback. When your hearing aid is snuggly inside your ear before turning it on, you will have solved this particular feedback concern.

Feedback is sometimes caused when your hearing aid isn’t fitting properly. 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. Getting it adjusted by the retailer is the only good remedy to this problem.

Feedback And Earwax

When it comes to hearing aids, earwax is in no way a friend. Hearing aids usually won’t fit correctly if there is earwax built up on the casing. Now, feedback is once again being triggered by a loose fit. If you ask your retailer or if you read the users-manual, you will learn how to safely clean this earwax off.

Perhaps It’s Only Broke

If everything else doesn’t work you need to consider this. A damaged hearing aid will definitely feedback. As an example, the outer casing may be cracked. You should not try to fix this damage at home. Take it in for expert repair.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

Hearing aids will make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are really something else. A low battery or maybe even other potential issues can cause a warning sound in many devices. Pay attention to the sound. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? Check the users-manual to see if your device has this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Many brands of hearing aids are going to produce it and the cause is typically very clear.

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