Folsom Hearing Aid Center - Folsom and Placerville, CA

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

Is that a teakettle or is it just your hearing aids? A very common concern with hearing aids which can probably be fixed is feedback. If you really want to come one step closer to knowing why you keep getting that high pitch whistling sound, you need to understand how your hearing aids operate. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids, basically, are actually just a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it back in your ear. But there are complex functions in between the time that the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

After the sound enters the microphone it gets transformed to an analog signal to be further processed. A high-tech digital processing chip then changes the analog signal to a digital one. Once the signal is converted to digital, the various features and settings of the hearing aids kick in to amplify and clean up the sound.

The signal is sent to a receiver after being modified back to analog by the processor. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The receiver converts it back to sound waves and sends them through your ear canal. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea translate it back into electrical signals for the brain to understand.

This all sounds quite complicated but it happens in a nanosecond. In spite of all of this state-of-the-art technology, the hearing aid still feeds back.

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Hearing aids are not the only place that you hear feedback. Sound systems that include microphones normally have some degree of feedback. Essentially, the microphone is collecting sound that is produced by the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave goes into the microphone, then goes through the signal 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 hearing aid doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that causes it to scream.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are a number of things that might become a problem which could cause this feedback loop. One of the most common causes is turning the hearing aid on in your hand and then putting it in your ear. Right when you push the on button, your hearing aid starts to process sound. This feedback is produced as the sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone. Before you switch your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear and you will eliminate this source of feedback.

Sometimes hearing aids don’t fit as well as they ought to and that can lead to feedback problems. If you have lost weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids are older, you may have a loose fit. If that’s the case, you should go back to where you got it 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. Earwax accumulation on the casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting properly. When that happens, the device becomes loose again and produces feedback. If you ask your retailer or maybe if you study the manual, you will find out how to safely clean this earwax off.

Maybe It’s Simply Broken

This is your next thing to think about when you’ve tried everything else. Feedback can definitely be caused by a damaged hearing aid. For instance, the outer casing may be cracked. You should never try to fix this damage at home. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

There is a possibility that what you are hearing is actually not feedback at all. There are things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, such as a low battery, which can give you a warning sound. Listen closely to the sound. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? If your device includes this feature, the manual will tell you.

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