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

Are you starting to hear a high pitch noise coming out of your hearing aids? The well-known problem of feedback in your hearing aids can most likely be fixed. That aggravating high pitched sound can be better understood by getting some understanding of how your hearing aids work. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids, basically, are really just a microphone and a speaker. After a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. When the microphone picks the sound up but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some complicated functions that occur.

After the sound enters the microphone it gets converted to an analog signal to be further processed. A sophisticated transformation from analog to digital is then done by a signal processing chip. The sound is clarified after it becomes digital by the device’s functions and controls.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being modified back to analog by the digital signal processor. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The receiver converts the signal 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 to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

This all sounds quite complex but it happens in a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it feedback?

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Feedback doesn’t exclusively happen inside of hearing aids. If the sound system uses a microphone, it is likely that there is some amount of feedback. Essentially, the microphone is picking up sound that is produced by the receiver and re-amplifying it. After going into the microphone and being processed, the receiver then transforms the signal back into a sound wave. The microphone then picks up that sound wave again and amplifies it creating the feedback loop. 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 can go wrong to cause 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 a very common cause. Your hearing aid starts to process sound as soon as you press the “on” switch. The feedback is produced when the sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone. When your hearing aid is snuggly in your ear before turning it on, you will have eliminated this particular feedback hassle.

Occasionally hearing aids don’t fit quite as well as they ought to and that can lead to feedback problems. Maybe you’ve lost some weight since you had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids are older, you may have a loose fit. If that’s the case, you should head back to the retailer and have the piece adjusted to fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

Hearing aids certainly have problems with earwax. Earwax buildup on the outer casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting right. When that takes place, the device becomes loose again and produces feedback. Look in the manual that came with your hearing aids or ask the retailer to determine exactly how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Simply Broken

If all else fails you need to consider this. Feedback can certainly be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. As an example, the outer casing may be cracked. You should not attempt to fix this at home. Make 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 not feedback to begin with. A low battery or other potential problems can cause a warning sound in many devices. Pay attention to the sound. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? If your device comes with this feature, the manual will tell you.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Usually, the actual cause of the feedback is very clear no matter what brand you have.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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