Will Hearing Aids Make My Hearing Worse?
Hearing aids don’t make your hearing worse if they are properly programmed, but they might alter your perception of what you can hear when you don’t have them in. The reasons are fairly complex, but it’s mostly down to psychology.
Perceived Hearing and Actual Hearing
The longer you wear hearing aids, the more you get used to being able to hear more sounds. As a result, you notice a sizable difference when you don’t have them in. For those who have worn hearing aids most of their lives, it’s not a major issue, but if you are a relative newcomer to wearing them, it can be. That’s because when it’s not a habit to wear your hearing aids, you end up forgetting them sometimes and having to have social interactions without them.
Without them, sounds seem less than you remember. However, your actual hearing levels are unlikely to have changed.
When Can Hearing Aids Damage Your Hearing?
Improperly calibrated hearing aids can do damage to your hearing, especially those that are sold as amplifiers and are not tuned. Without appropriate audiological attention, these amplifiers may not be suitable for your needs. For example:
- They may boost sound across the spectrum, but you only need correction in one area
- They may need to be turned up very high if you have severe hearing loss, but that can damage your hearing
- They may not be suitable for your type of hearing loss
The best hearing aids are ones that are tuned to your specific hearing pattern and are suitable for your needs.
In most cases, you need a hearing test to check that you have hearing loss and determine the type of hearing loss it is. Conductive hearing loss (an issue with the way sound transmits through the middle ear) is treated differently from sensorineural hearing loss (a problem in the inner ear). Then, the hearing aid needs to be tuned carefully. The audiologist will program certain sounds to be boosted and other sounds less so or even left untouched.
In addition, if you have a physical problem with your ear, there may be more appropriate treatments, sometimes surgery or medication. While a hearing aid can help with hearing loss caused by a wax blockage, it’s much more effective to simply remove the wax.