Can My Ability to Hear be Further Damaged by Hearing Aids Increasing Already Loud Noises?

A common question asked by patients being fitted for hearing aids deals with whether the hearing aids that are intended to help them hear faint sounds will make the loud noises too loud.The response to this common question is quite comforting.

Put simply, as long as they’re properly fitted and adjusted today’s hearing aids are made so that they won’t take already loud sounds and make them louder still, possibly harming the user’s ears. We cannot overemphasize how important the bold phrase is; this is the reason you need professional help with choosing and fitting your hearing aids.

A longer answer to the same question requires an explanation of hearing aids themselves, and the way that they work. Basically, they pick up sounds and transform them into digital information, which is then processed by the microchip in the hearing aid in many different ways before being routed to your ears. Your individual needs can be met with these digital hearing aids by programming and adjusting the maximum volume and the quality of sounds. An example might be that we program your hearing aid to amplify high-frequency sounds and reduce the volume of lower-frequency sounds if you suffer from primarily high-frequency hearing loss. This preference can be reversed, of course, if you suffer from primarily low-frequency hearing loss.

In addition, modern digital hearing aids are able to filter the sound to make it more understandable. 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. This process is aided by directional microphones that can detect where sounds are coming from and thus reduce the volume of background noise coming from behind or to the sides while increasing the volume of sounds coming from in front of you.

An important point to remember is that hearing aids will not protect your ears from loud sounds like earplugs do. Noise-induced hearing loss can still be caused by loud sounds such as chainsaws or overly amplified rock concerts. But in most situations your properly fitted and programmed hearing aid should handle most of the range of sounds you’re likely to encounter.