Does your hearing aid sound a bit like a teakettle right now? Feedback is a very common concern with hearing aids but it’s not something that can’t be fixed. That annoying high pitched noise can be better grasped by learning how your hearing aids operate. What can be done about hearing aid feedback?
What Exactly Are The Functions of Your Hearing Aids?
As a basic rule, hearing aids are just a microphone and a speaker. When a sound is picked up by the microphone, the speaker then plays it back. When the microphone picks up the sound but before it gets played back by the speaker, there are some intricate functions that happen.
Because the sound is going to be further processed, it must first be transformed into an analog signal. A high-tech digital signal processing microchip then changes the analog signal to a digital one. The sound is clarified after it becomes digital by the device’s functions and settings.
The signal is transmitted to a receiver after being changed back to analog by the processor. At this stage, what was once a sound becomes an analog signal and that’s not something you can hear. The receiver converts it back to sound waves and transmits them through your ear canal. Ironically, the brain interprets sound by electrical signals, so elements in the cochlea turn it back into electrical signals for the brain to understand.
It’s hard to believe but all of this happens in a nanosecond. So if your hearing aid is so advanced why does it still feedback?
Feedback Loops And How They Happen
Hearing aids are not the only place where you notice feedback. You hear that same high pitched noise in many sound systems which use a microphone. Essentially, the microphone is collecting sound which is coming from the receiver and re-amplifying it. The sound wave enters the microphone, goes through the processing and after that the receiver turns it back into a sound wave. The microphone starts to pick up that same sound wave again and amplifies it creating 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 might be created by several issues. A very common cause is turning the hearing aid on in your hand and then putting it in your ear. Your hearing aid starts to process sound as soon as you press the “on” switch. The sound coming from the receiver bounces off of your hand and then back into the microphone producing the feedback. 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 isn’t fitting as well as it should. Maybe you’ve lost some weight since you last had your hearing aids fitted, or if your hearing aids are older, you may have a loose fit. In that case, you need to go back to where you got it and have the piece re-adjusted to fit your ear properly again.
Earwax And Feedback
When it comes to hearing aids, earwax is in no way a friend. Earwax buildup on the casing of the hearing aid keeps it from fitting properly. When that happens, the device becomes loose again and causes feedback. If you ask your retailer or maybe if you read the users-manual, you will learn how to safely clean this earwax off.
Perhaps It’s Simply Broken
When you’ve attempted everything else but the feedback continues, this is where you head next. A broken hearing aid will indeed feedback. As an example, the outer casing may be cracked. You should never attempt to fix this at home. Make an appointment with a hearing aid expert to get a repair.
Sometimes What Sounds Like Feedback is Actually Something Else Altogether
Hearing aids can make other noises that sound like feedback but are in fact something else. Some hearing aids use sound to alert you of imminent problems like a low battery. The sound should be carefully listened to. Is it actually a whistling noise or does it sound more like a beep? Check the users-manual to see if your device comes with this feature and what other warnings you should pay attention to in the future.
Feedback doesn’t discriminate by brand or style. Most hearing aids are going to produce it and the cause is usually pretty clear.