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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 common issue of feedback in your hearing aids can possibly be corrected. Understanding exactly how hearing aids function and what might be the reason for that incessant whistling sound will get you a little closer to eliminating it. So what can you do about it?

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

As a basic rule, hearing aids are simply a microphone and a speaker. The speaker plays back the sound in your ear that the microphone picks up. When the microphone picks the sound up but before it is played back by the speaker, there are some sophisticated functions that happen.

Once a sound wave is picked up by the microphone it is modified into an analog signal to be further processed. A state of the art digital processing chip then turns the analog signal to digital. The device’s advanced properties and controls activate to amplify and clean up the sound.

The digital signal processor then changes the signal back to analog and forwards it to a receiver. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals which were once a sound. The sound waves, which the receiver changes the signal back to, are then transmitted through your ear canal. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea turn it back to electrical signals for the brain to understand.

It all sounds very complex but it happens in about a nanosecond. In spite of all of this sophisticated technology, the device still has feedback.

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Hearing aids are not the only place that you hear feedback. Sound systems that come with microphones normally have some level of feedback. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, goes through the processing and after that the receiver transforms it into a sound wave. The microphone starts to pick up that same sound wave again and amplifies it generating the feedback loop. The system hates 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 created by several issues. One of the most common causes is turning the hearing aid on while it’s still in your hand and then putting it into your ear. Your hearing aid begins processing sound waves right when you press 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. The solution to this difficulty is very simple; you should wait until the device is inside your ear before hitting the switch.

Feedback is sometimes caused when your hearing aid doesn’t fit as well as it should. Maybe you’ve lost 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 go back to the retailer and have the piece re-adjusted to fit your ear properly again.

Feedback And Earwax

Earwax isn’t a friend of your hearing aids. Hearing aids won’t always fit well if there is an accumulation of earwax on them. When that takes place, the device becomes loose again and causes feedback. If you consult your retailer or perhaps if you read the users-manual, you will find out how to safely clean this earwax off.

Perhaps It’s Simply Broken

If all else fails you need to take this into consideration. Feedback can certainly be caused by a damaged hearing aid. The casing may have a crack in it somewhere, for example. It’s unwise to try to fix it on your own. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to get it fixed.

Occasionally What Sounds Like Feedback is Really Something Else Altogether

Hearing aids can make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are really something else. Some hearing aids use sound to alert you of impending issues like a low battery. Listen closely to the sound. Is it actually a screeching noise or does it sound more like a beep? Consult the users-manual to find out if your device comes with this feature and what other warnings you should listen for in the future.

It doesn’t make a difference what brand or style you have. Typically, the cause of the feedback is very clear no matter what brand you have.