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

Does your hearing aid sound a little like a teakettle recently? The well-known issue of feedback in your hearing aids can possibly be fixed. Knowing how hearing aids work and what might be the reason for that incessant high pitched whistling noise will get you one step closer to getting rid of it. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

At their core, hearing aids are simply a microphone and a speaker. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it back into your ear. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that gets complicated.

The sound is then transformed into an analog electrical signal to be processed after being picked up by the microphone. The analog version is then translated into a digital signal by the device’s processor. The sound is cleaned up after becoming digital by the device’s features and settings.

The signal is sent to a receiver after being modified back to analog by the digital signal processor. It’s not possible to hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The receiver converts it back to sound waves and transmits them through your ear canal. Elements in the cochlea translate it back into an electrical signal that the brain can interpret.

This all sounds quite complicated but it happens in a nanosecond. Despite all of this sophisticated technology, the device still feeds back.

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Hearing aids are not the only place where you find feedback. Sound systems that come with microphones generally have some amount of feedback. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave goes into the microphone, then goes through the processing and after that the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. The microphone then picks up that sound wave again and amplifies it producing the feedback loop. The hearing aid doesn’t like hearing itself over and over again and that makes it screech.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop can be brought about by several issues. If you turn your hearing aid on in your hand before you put it in, you will get one of the most common causes. Your hearing aid begins processing sound right when you hit the “on” switch. The feedback is produced when the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off of your hand and right back into the microphone. Before you decide to switch your hearing aid on put it inside of your ear to eliminate this source of feedback.

Sometimes hearing aids won’t fit quite as well as they ought to and that can lead to feedback. Loose fittings have a tendency to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost some weight since having them fitted. In that case, you should head back to where you got it and have the piece adjusted so it will fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

When it comes to hearing aids, earwax is not a friend. One of the major reasons that hearing aids don’t fit right is because of the accumulation of earwax on the casing. When that happens, the device becomes loose again and triggers feedback. Read the manual that you got with your hearing aids or contact the retailer to learn exactly how to clean earwax off safely.

Maybe It’s Just Broke

If everything else doesn’t work you should take this into consideration. Feedback will certainly be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. The casing may have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should not try to fix this damage at home. Make an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

You could be hearing something that sounds like feedback but it’s actually not. Many hearing aids use sound to warn you of imminent problems like a low battery. Listen closely to the sound. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? If your device includes this feature, the owners manual will tell you.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Typically, the cause of the feedback is pretty clear regardless of what brand you own.