Why am I Getting Feedback in my Hearing Aids?

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

Are you starting to hear a high pitch noise coming from your hearing aids? The common problem of feedback inside of your hearing aids can possibly be corrected. Knowing how hearing aids operate 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?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the basics of hearing aid technology. 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.

The sound is then transformed into an analog electrical signal for processing after being picked up by the microphone. A state of the art digital processing microchip then converts the analog signal to a digital one. Once digital, the numerous features and settings of the device kick in to intensify and clean up the sound.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being changed back to analog by the processor. At this stage, what was once a sound wave becomes an analog signal and that’s not something your ears can hear. The waves of sound, which the receiver changes the signal back to, are then sent through your ear canal. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea turn it back to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

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

How do Feedback Loops Happen?

Feedback doesn’t just happen inside hearing aids. You hear that same high pitched noise in many sound systems which use a microphone. Basically, the microphone is picking up sound that is produced by the receiver and re-amplifying it. After coming into the microphone and being processed, the receiver then transforms the signal back into a sound wave. The sound is re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which creates 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 brought about by several issues. A very common cause is turning the hearing aid on while it’s still in your hand and then putting it in your ear. Your hearing aid starts to process sound waves as soon as you hit the “on” button. This feedback is triggered as the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off of your hand and then right back into the microphone. Before you turn your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear to eliminate this particular source of feedback.

Sometimes hearing aids won’t fit as well as they ought to and that leads to feedback problems. Maybe you’ve lost weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids a bit older, you may have a loose fit. If that’s the case, you need to go back to the retailer and have the piece adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

Hearing aids certainly have problems with earwax. Hearing aids usually won’t fit right if there is an accumulation of earwax on them. And we are already aware that a loose fitting device will be the cause of feedback. If you consult your retailer or maybe if you read the users-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 will absolutely be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. For example, the outer casing may be cracked. You should never try to fix this at home. Take it in for expert repair.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

Hearing aids will make other noises that sound like feedback but are in fact something else. There are a few other things that can go wrong with your hearing aids, like a low battery, which will give a warning sound. Listen closely to the sound. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it really sound like feedback? If your device has this feature, the owners 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 pretty clear.

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