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

Does your hearing aid sound a little like a teapot these days? The well-known issue of feedback inside of your hearing aids can most likely be corrected. That irritating high pitched noise can be better understood by learning how your hearing aids function. What can be done about hearing aid feedback?

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 back into your ear. When the microphone picks up the sound but prior to when it gets played back by the speaker, there are some intricate functions that occur.

Because the sound is going to be further processed, it needs first to be translated into an analog signal. The analog rendition is then translated into digital by the device’s processor. Once digital, the various features and controls of the hearing aids start working to amplify and clarify the sound.

The processor then transforms the signal back to analog and sends it to a receiver. At this point, what was once a sound becomes an analog electrical signal and that isn’t something you can hear. The sound waves, that the receiver changes the signal back into, are then transmitted through your ears. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea translate it back to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

It’s hard to believe but all of this happens in a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it feedback?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback occurs in other sound systems besides hearing aids. You hear that same whistle in the majority of sound systems which use a microphone. In essence, the microphone is collecting sound that is coming from the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave goes into the microphone, then goes through the processing and then the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. The microphone then picks up that same sound wave again and amplifies it producing the feedback loop. The system hates hearing itself over and over again and that causes it to scream.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

There are several things that might become a problem which could create this feedback loop. 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. Right when you push the on switch, your hearing aid begins processing sound waves. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone producing the feedback. If your hearing aid is snuggly inside of your ear and then you turn it on, you will have eliminated this particular feedback issue.

If your hearing aids don’t fit that well, this can also lead to feedback. Maybe you’ve lost weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids are older, you might 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. Earwax accumulation on the outer casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting properly. Now, feedback is again being caused by a poor fit. 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 everything else doesn’t work you should take this into consideration. A damaged hearing aid will certainly cause feedback. For example, the outer casing may be cracked. You should not attempt to fix this at home. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to have it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

Hearing aids can make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are actually something else. A low battery or maybe even other potential problems will cause a warning sound in many devices. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it really a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? If your device comes with this feature, the owners manual will tell you.

It doesn’t make a difference what brand or style you own. Many brands of hearing aids are going to produce it and the cause is usually very clear.