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How to Eliminate Feedback in Your Hearing Aids

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, or you were never shown the correct way to wear it. The mold or shell might be slightly off, pointing slightly in the wrong direction, or just might not be long enough. A hearing health professional will be able to detect the problem and correct it right away.

Excess Ear Wax

Having too much ear wax in your ears is one of the most common hearing aid feedback culprits. The reason is because 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.

Damaged Device

It might just be that your hearing aid is broken or damaged – it’s a rough world out there! In this case, book an appointment as soon as possible to have a hearing health professional take a look to see if parts of your device are cracked, split, or have otherwise been whacked out of place. If you ordered your devices online, they may have been damaged in the shipping process (yet another reason why we advise against doing this).

Could It Be Your Battery?

Many people who are adjusting to life with hearing aids mistake a low-battery sound indicator sound 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.

Hearing aid feedback, while an unfortunate reality of wearing the devices, is easily avoidable, especially since many of today’s improved digital hearing aids have built-in feedback controls that make eliminating hearing aid feedback even easier.

For example, devices like the Beltone Promise™ feature Feedback Eraser™, which reduces hearing aid feedback significantly.

This means that with today’s new hearing aids styles, the largest source of “feedback” you’ll have in your life will likely come from your spouse or your boss – not your hearing aids!

 

Ken LaFerle, Au.D.
Ken is Beltone's Director of Educational Services and has been "bleeding Beltone Blue" for the last 26 years. He has been working in the hearing industry for the last 31 years and thoroughly enjoys the hearing care field and is looking forward to sharing his thoughts and experiences on the blog. More about Ken

4 Replies

  • Frieda Buesing
    Reply

    Have two BTE hearing aids . Have been told there are five different operating modes but can’t tell which mode they are in.

  • Olivia Sherwin
    Reply

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that hearing aid feedback can be caused by the device fitting loosely. My husband has lost about fifteen pounds recently, and a few days ago he started complaining about getting feedback. I’ll definitely look into having his hearing aids refitted to try and help with this problem. Thanks for the great post!

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