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

Does your hearing aid sound a bit like a teapot these days? The common problem of feedback in your hearing aids can most likely be fixed. That irritating high pitched noise can be better comprehended by learning how your hearing aids work. But exactly what can be done?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids, basically, are really simply a microphone and a speaker. The speaker plays back the sound in your ear that the microphone picks up. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that gets a little complicated.

After the sound enters the microphone it is converted to an analog signal to be further processed. The analog rendition is then translated into a digital signal by the device’s processor. Once digital, the numerous features and controls of the hearing aids start working to intensify and clarify the sound.

The digital signal processor then changes the signal back to analog and transmits it to a receiver. It’s not possible to hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The sound waves, which the receiver converts the signal back into, are then transmitted 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.

Surprisingly all of this complex functionality takes place in a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it still feedback?

How do Feedback Loops Happen?

Feedback doesn’t just happen inside hearing aids. You hear that same high pitched noise in most sound systems which use a microphone. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. After coming into the microphone and getting processed, the receiver then turns the signal back into a sound wave. The microphone starts to pick up that same sound wave again and amplifies it producing the feedback loop. To put it simply, the hearing aid is listening to itself and doesn’t like it.

Exactly What is The Cause of Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop can be created by several issues. If you turn your hearing aid on in your hand prior to putting it in, you will get a very common cause. Your hearing aid starts to process sound as soon as you press the “on” button. The feedback is caused when the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off of your hand and 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.

Feedback can also be caused when your hearing aid doesn’t fit as well as it should. If you have lost some weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids a bit older, you may have a loose fit. Getting it adjusted by the seller is the only real remedy to this one.

Earwax And Feedback

Earwax isn’t a friend of your hearing aids. Earwax buildup on the casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting properly. And we already learned that a loose fitting device can cause feedback. Read the manual that came with your hearing aids or else ask the retailer to learn how to clean earwax off safely.

Perhaps It’s Just Broken

If all else fails you should take this into consideration. A damaged hearing aid will definitely feedback. For instance, the outer casing might be cracked. Don’t try and fix it yourself. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to have it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Actually Feedback

There is a chance that what you are hearing is actually not really feedback to begin with. Many hearing aids use sound to warn you of imminent issues like a low battery. Listen to the sound. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? Consult the manual to see if your device comes with this feature and what other warning sounds you should listen for in the future.

Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Most hearing aids are capable of producing it and the cause is usually quite clear.