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

Are you beginning to hear a high pitch noise coming from your hearing aids? Feedback is a common concern with hearing aids but it’s not something that you can’t have fixed. Understanding exactly how hearing aids work and what might be the reason for that constant whistling sound will get you a little closer to eradicating it. But exactly what can you do about it?

What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?

A simple microphone and a speaker are the core of hearing aid technology. The microphone picks up the sound and the speaker plays it back in your ear. It’s what happens between the microphone and speaker that gets complicated.

Because the sound is going to be further processed, it must first be transformed into an electrical analog signal. An advanced change from analog to digital is then done by a signal processing chip. Once the signal is converted to digital, the various features and controls of the hearing aids kick in to amplify and clean up the sound.

The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being changed 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 the signal 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.

It all sounds quite complex but it occurs in a nanosecond. Despite all of this state-of-the-art technology, the hearing aid still has feedback.

Feedback Loops And How They Happen

Hearing aids are not the only place where you notice feedback. Sound systems that include microphones typically have some degree of feedback. The receiver produces sound which the microphone then picks up and re-amplifies. The sound wave enters the microphone, then goes through the processing and after that the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. A feedback loop is then produced after the microphone picks up the sound again and re-amplifies it. Put simply, the hearing aid is hearing itself and it doesn’t like it.

What Causes Hearing Aid Feedback?

A feedback loop can be caused by several issues. If you turn your hearing aid on in your hand prior to putting it in, you will get one of the most common causes. As soon as you press the on button, your hearing aid starts to process sound. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off your hand back into the microphone causing the feedback. The answer to this difficulty is quite simple; you should wait until after the hearing aid is snuggly in your ear before pressing the switch.

If your hearing aids aren’t fitting as well as they should, this can also lead to feedback. If you have lost some weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or possibly if your hearing aids a bit older, you may have a loose fit. In that case, you should go back to the retailer and have the piece re-adjusted to fit your ear properly again.

Earwax And Feedback

Earwax isn’t a friend when it comes to hearing aids. Earwax accumulation on the casing of the hearing aid stops it from fitting right. And we already learned that a loose fitting device will cause feedback. Look in the manual that you got with your hearing aids or check with the retailer to learn how to clean earwax off without damaging the device.

Perhaps It’s Just Broke

If everything else doesn’t work you need to take this into consideration. Feedback can definitely be caused by a broken hearing aid. For instance, the outer casing might be cracked. It’s unwise to try and fix the unit yourself. Schedule a session with a hearing aid repair service to have it fixed.

When is Feedback Not Really Feedback

Hearing aids will make other noises that you may think sound like feedback but are actually something else. Many hearing aids use sound to warn you of imminent issues like a low battery. Listen closely 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 includes this feature and what other warnings you should pay attention to in the future.

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