Coastal Hearing Aid Center - Encinitas, CA

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

Are you beginning to hear an annoying high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? The common issue of feedback inside of your hearing aids can most likely be fixed. If you want to get one step closer to understanding why you keep getting that high pitch whistling noise, you need to learn how your hearing aids operate. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the basics of hearing aid technology. When a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. But there are advanced functions between when the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

Once a sound wave enters the microphone it is converted into an analog signal for processing. The analog form is then converted into digital by the device’s processor. The device’s sophisticated properties and settings activate to amplify and clarify the sound.

The processor then transforms the signal back to analog and transmits it to a receiver. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals which were once a sound. The receiver converts it back to sound waves and sends them through your ears. Elements in the cochlea turn it back into an electrical signal that the brain can understand.

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

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback happens in other sound systems besides hearing aids. You hear that same high pitched noise in most sound systems that utilize a microphone. In essence, the microphone is collecting sound which is produced by the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave goes into the microphone, goes through the signal processing and after that the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then created after the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. Put simply, the hearing aid is hearing itself and it doesn’t like it.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop might be brought about 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 begins processing sound waves as soon as you press the “on” button. The feedback is produced as the sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and back into the microphone. The answer to this concern is quite simple; wait until after the hearing aid is inside your ear before pressing the button.

If your hearing aids aren’t fitting as well as they should, this can also trigger feedback. Loose fittings have a tendency to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost weight since having them fitted. Getting an adjustment from the seller is the only good solution to this problem.

Earwax And Feedback

With regards to hearing aids, earwax is not a friend. Earwax accumulation on the casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting right. And we already learned that a loose fitting device can be the cause of feedback. If you ask your retailer or maybe if you read the manual, you will determine how to safely clean this earwax off.

Maybe It’s Simply Broke

If all else fails you should take this into consideration. Feedback can certainly be caused by a damaged hearing aid. The casing might have a crack in it somewhere, for example. It’s unwise to try and fix the unit yourself. Schedule an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

You could be hearing something that you think sounds like feedback but it’s actually not. A low battery or other possible issues can cause a warning sound in some devices. Pay attention to the sound. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it really sound like feedback? Check the manual to find out if your device comes with this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

It doesn’t matter what brand or style you own. Typically, the cause of the feedback is quite clear regardless of what brand you have.

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