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Can Hearing Aids Damage Hearing?
Whenever the topic of what’s to blame for the nation’s epidemic of hearing loss rears its head, practitioners are swift to blame loud noises – and rightly so. The modern sound environment can be damaging to your hearing.
But the next question naturally arises: If loud noises are harmful to hearing, doesn’t that mean hearing aids could be, too? After all, they amplify incoming sounds. It only stands to reason that they could make hearing worse.
While incorrectly adjusted hearing aids can cause problems, hearing aids selected with and fit by an audiologist are safe and effective.
Any loud noise can potentially harm hearing, everything from loud music to drills on a building site. Excessively energetic sound waves damage the small sound-sensing hairs that line the middle ear, degrading their ability to send signals to the brain.
But here’s the rub: Hearing aids are only dangerous to hearing if set up incorrectly. If you go to a trained audiologist, the risk is negligible.
The trick to adjusting hearing aids is to make sure that they deliver a level of sound that does not cause further damage to the ears. If you buy a hearing aid over the internet and fit it yourself, you must judge the appropriate amplification without any equipment to help you. If, however, you go to a professional, they do all that for you, using state-of-the-art techniques.
Buying a hearing aid, therefore, isn’t only about finding the right device. The fitting is essential too. Get it right, and you can say hello to better hearing and healthy ears. Get it wrong, and you could make things worse. Always work with an audiologist to ensure proper calibration of the device.
Hearing aid fittings encourage hearing aid use
There’s a second reason why going to a professional fitting is important – it improves in ear comfort.
If you have hearing loss, you will wear your hearing aid for long stretches throughout the day. If your hearing aid doesn’t fit correctly, it’ll rub against the walls of your ear canal, eventually leading to discomfort and discouraging use.
Audiologists, therefore, take pains to ensure that the earmold – the part of the device which makes contact with your skin – fits the contours of your ears perfectly. The snugger the fit, the better the experience will be. If the fit isn't right, you and your hearing aids will never get on.
Hearing aids prevent further hearing loss
Hearing aids don’t just amplify incoming sounds – they prevent further hearing loss too. It is a myth, therefore, that correctly fitted hearing aids damage your hearing. It is the reverse.
So, what’s the story here? Why does this happen?
The main reason has to do with the stimulation of the auditory cortex – the part of the brain the processes sound. If you are losing your hearing, this region receives less stimulation. Eventually, it withers like an unused muscle, making it harder to interpret incoming signals.
Wearing a hearing aid restores the activity of the nerves that transfer information to the brain for processing. The body senses that it needs them and so it starts shuttling resources in their direction, beefing them up. Eventually, they strengthen, and some people find that they can lower the amplification of their hearing aids. Others notice that their rapid hearing loss progression slows down or stops altogether.
For those with tinnitus, hearing aids can be a real lifeline. Tinnitus is a persistent ringing in the ears caused by a lack of stimulation of the auditory cortex. It can cause sleeplessness, depression and anxiety. It can be a severe condition.
People who use hearing aids, however, often find that their tinnitus symptoms get better. And that, in turn, improves their hearing and quality of life. The brain hallucinates fewer of its own sounds and, instead, focuses on the real noises coming from the external world.
Get a hearing aid fitting today
The notion that hearing aids damage hearing seems to make sense, but it is not backed up by evidence. The purpose of hearing aids isn’t so much to blast your ears into submission but instead deliver a higher quality sound, which is easier for your brain to process.
People get into trouble with hearing aids when they try to order devices without the help of an audiologist. If you need hearing aids, it’s best not to take any chances. Always see an audiologist.
If you’d like to arrange a hearing aid fitting or discuss any hearing-related issues you may have, please get in touch with our friendly team at Quality Hearing Aid Center. Call us at (248) 430-8791 to find out more.