Feedback is that high- frequency squeal you and others may hear when you are wearing or holding a hearing aid that is turned on. In some cases, the hearing aid user may not even be aware of the feedback sound that is created because their hearing level is so poor at this frequency that they cannot detect it. In these cases, the feedback sound is more disturbing to those around the hearing aid user, than the user themselves.
What's with the Feedback?
The hearing aids on the market today are very sophisticated in processing sound and have mechanisms to detect potential feedback loops and subsequently reduce and/or eliminate any feedback that may be created. It is important to distinguish expected feedback from unexpected feedback when troubleshooting feedback concerns with your audiologist.
One should expect a squeal from a hearing instrument that is turned on in the following circumstances:
Hearing instrument cupped in hand
Hearing instrument accidentally left on and put in case
When inserting or removing instrument from ear
When placing hand and/or any other item such as scarf or hat near the instrument when in ear
Persistent feedback is problematic and should be of concern. A properly fitting hearing aid should not feedback when placed properly in the ear. Some causes of unexpected feedback include:
Cerumen in ear
Hearing aid is not positioned correctly
Hearing aid does not fit properly (i.e., typically too loose)
Hearing aid is not appropriate for hearing loss
Once you have checked your battery, cleaned your hearing aid, and properly replaced the wax guard, there is a very good chance that your hearing aid will be working again! If not, don’t panic. Contact your hearing aid clinic to book an in-person appointment. The clinic may have the tools necessary to deep-clean the hearing aid and/or replace any defective parts. If not, your audiologist can send your hearing aid in to the manufacturer to be repaired.
What To Do
If you are experiencing persistent feedback, it is important to have the matter addressed. The first step is to make sure that your hearing aid is positioned in your ear properly. If this does not resolve the problem, you will likely need to see your audiologist who will assist you in determining the source of the problem and making the appropriate recommendations to resolve the problem (e.g., cerumen management, remake of earmold and/or hearing aid). In some cases, this may not involve any cost to you if your hearing aid is under warranty.