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

Is that a teakettle or is that just your hearing aids? The common issue of feedback in your hearing aids can possibly be fixed. If you would like to come quite a bit closer to understanding why you keep getting that high pitch whistling noise, you need to understand how your hearing aids function. So what can you do about it?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

As a basic rule, hearing aids are just a microphone and a speaker. The speaker plays the sound into your ear which the microphone picks up. But there are complex functions between when the microphone picks up the sound and when the speaker plays it back.

The sound is then translated to an analog signal to be processed after being picked up by the microphone. The analog version is then converted into digital by the device’s processor. Once the signal is converted to digital, the various features and controls of the device kick in to amplify and clarify the sound.

The digital signal processor then transforms the signal back to analog and forwards it to a receiver. You’re ears don’t hear these electrical signals that were once a sound. The receiver converts the signal back into sound waves and transmits them through your ears. Elements in the cochlea turn it back into an electrical signal that the brain can understand.

It’s hard to believe but all of this happens in a nanosecond. What goes wrong to cause the feedback whistle, though?

How do Feedback Loops Occur?

Hearing aids are not the only place where you find feedback. Systems with microphones typically have some amount of feedback. The receiver generates sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, goes through the signal processing and after that the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. The sound is then re-amplified after the microphone picks it up again which creates a loop of feedback. The system hates hearing itself over and over again and that makes it scream.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop may be caused by several difficulties. 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 begins processing sound as soon as you hit the “on” switch. This feedback is caused as the sound coming out of the receiver bounces off your hand and then back into the microphone. When your hearing aid is snuggly inside of your ear and then you turn it on, you will have solved this particular feedback issue.

If your hearing aids don’t fit that well, this can also trigger feedback. Loose fitting devices tend to be a problem with older hearing aids or if you’ve lost some weight since having them fitted. Getting it adjusted by the retailer is the only real answer to this one.

Earwax And Feedback

When it comes to hearing aids, earwax is in no way a friend. Hearing aids won’t always fit right if there is earwax built up 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 consult the retailer to find out how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Only Broken

When you’ve attempted everything else but the whistling continues, this is where you head next. Feedback can certainly be caused by a broken or damaged hearing aid. The casing might have a crack in it somewhere, for example. You should not try to fix this at home. Take it in for expert repair.

Sometimes What Sounds Like Feedback is Actually Something Else Altogether

You may well be hearing something that you think sounds like feedback but it’s actually not. Many hearing aids employ sound to alert you of impending problems such as a low battery. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it a tone or a beep, or does it actually sound like feedback? If your device has this feature, the manual will tell you.

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