Will My Hearing be Impaired Further by Hearing Aids Increasing Already Loud Sounds?

A common question asked by customers being fitted for hearing aids deals with whether the hearing aids which are meant to help them hear faint sounds will make the loud noises too loud.The response to this logical question is quite reassuring.

In a nutshell, modern hearing aids that are correctly fitted and adjusted are designed to avoid amplifying sounds that are already too loud. We cannot overemphasize how critical the phrase in bold is; this is the reason you need professional help with choosing and fitting your hearing aids.

The more complex answer has to do with the nature of modern digital hearing aids themselves, and how they work. Digital hearing aids work by transforming sounds into data. The data which encodes the sounds is then processed in the hearing aid’s microchip before the amplified sound is delivered to your ears. These digital hearing aids can be programmed, allowing audiologists to not only set a maximum volume that suits you, but to transform the nature of the sounds you hear. For example, if you suffer from primarily high-frequency hearing loss, the hearing aid can be programmed to amplify high-frequency sounds more than low-frequency sounds. If you suffer more from low-frequency hearing loss, the hearing aid can be programmed accordingly.

The newest digital hearing aids can also filter sounds to make them easier for you to understand. For example, if foreground voices are obscured by background noise, the hearing aid can detect the noise and suppress it or lower its volume, amplifying only the voices. If volume levels change – for example if music starts at a low volume but then becomes too loud – the hearing aid can dynamically compensate for it. Directional microphones also allow the hearing aid wearer to hear faint sounds coming from the direction they are facing, while suppressing noisier sounds coming from behind or to either side.

One thing that hearing aids do not do with regard to loud sounds is protect your ears from them the way that ear plugs would. Noise-induced hearing loss can still be caused by loud sounds such as chainsaws or overly amplified rock concerts. However, the most common sounds you encounter should be handled by your properly fitted and programmed hearing aids.