Do you ever feel like sometimes your hearing aid just won’t shut up? Does its constant whistling or chirping sounds make you feel like it always has something to say? This type of noise is known as hearing aid feedback, and it can be alarming, annoying, distracting and embarrassing all at the same time.
Fortunately, eliminating feedback in your hearing aids is a simple process. Here’s how to find relief fast, starting with a brief lesson in physics:
Why It Happens
The science behind hearing aid feedback is complex, but simply put, a whistling hearing aid is actually the sound of the device processing and amplifying its own operating sounds. That’s right! Hearing aids, while small, are made of moving parts and ventilation ports that create noise, albeit a much quieter noise than the other electronic devices and appliances in our lives. (Have you ever experienced a laptop running so loudly, it sounds like it’s going to take off?)
When a hearing aid is placed against a solid surface, but its microphone is not flush against the surface, it can pick up on the sounds it makes as the sound waves bounce off of the solid surfaces. In other words, hearing aids are so good at what they do, they pick up the high-frequency noises they are creating.
In some types of hearing aids, feedback is typical if the device is turned on in your hand. Your hands are isolating the sound waves your hearing aid is making, which prompts the device to amplify the sounds – only these are sounds you don’t want to hear, and neither do the people around you. To get around the feedback problem in this case, just avoid turning your hearing aid on until it is snuggly in place in your ear.
Others scenarios that can cause hearing aid feedback include:
- a loose-fitting hearing aid
- an improperly fitted/positioned hearing aid
- an excess of ear wax
- a cracked or damaged mold or shell
Loose-fitting Hearing Aid
If hearing aid feedback occurs after you’ve owned your device for quite a while, the cause might be a loose-fitting hearing aid. This can happen if you’ve lost even just 10 or 20 pounds of weight. Your best bet, in this case, is to get re-fitted and have an audiologist replace your hearing aid mold or shell with a new size.
Improperly Fitted Hearing Aid
If hearing aid feedback has been a problem for you right from the get-go, it’s likely the device was never fitted properly to your ear canal in the first place. The mold or shell might be slightly off, pointing slightly in the wrong direction, or just might not be long enough.
Excess Ear Wax
Having too much ear wax in your ears is one of the most common hearing aid feedback culprits. The reason is that ear wax can get in the way of a proper fit and create a solid enough barrier for sound waves created by your hearing aid to reverberate off of. Correct the problem yourself using a home remedy, or mention your concerns the next time you get your ears checked.
Could It Be Your Battery?
Many people who are adjusting to life with hearing aids mistake a low-battery sound indicator as hearing aid feedback. If the sound is a slow, steady beeping noise, your hearing device likely needs to have its battery recharged or replaced.