Hearing aids are supposed to make their users hear better and, thus, communicate better. But many people, usually newbies, report that they can’t hear as well as they did before they used hearing aids. They seemed to hear less environmental sounds even with their hearing aids turned on at nearly full volume.
So, do hearing aids actually cause a worsening of hearing loss? The short answer: No. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why it seems to be so and why it isn’t so actually.
It’s a Matter of Perception
The human brain can play tricks and it’s something that psychologists, magicians and con men know all too well. This is the reason why some users of hearing aids express concern that their hearing ability decreased after wearing these devices for a few weeks. They further assert that they were better off without hearing aids.
In reality, their brains are tricking them into thinking so! On average, persons with progressive hearing loss will live with their condition for 7-10 years before seeking professional intervention. Their hearing ability gradually worsened through the years, perhaps aggravated by improper ear care like poking the ear canal with cotton buds.
As the years pass without proper medical intervention, their brains become more and more accustomed to their decreased hearing ability. They then start thinking that their current hearing ability is normal – well, at least, normal according to their own perception.
What happens when they start wearing hearing aids? Well, if you’re new to these devices, you will be unaccustomed to the sound clarity and volume of the environmental sounds. Your brain starts to readjust to the better sound quality and consider it as the new normal.
When that happens, the severity of your hearing loss becomes significantly noticeable without your hearing aids on. You will then think that the hearing aids worsened your hearing loss!
But wear your hearing aids again and your ability to hear environmental sounds increases.
It’s a Matter of Customization
But improperly fitted hearing aids can make it seem like, indeed, your hearing loss is worsening. You may experience feedback from these devices, perhaps even suffer from headaches and tinnitus caused by the feedback. You won’t want to wear your hearing aids anymore because their side effects seem to be outweighed by their benefits.
You should then consult with your audiologist about making adjustments to address the issues of poor physical fit and poor customization to your specific hearing issues. Hearing aids are effective because these amplify and process sounds in a way that makes them sound better in your ears.
But their efficacy only works when they are customized to your specific hearing loss. So if you think that your new hearing aids are aggravating your hearing loss, you have to consult with your audiologist.
Hearing aids may be expensive, partly because of the customization costs, but they are well worth their cost. If you think you need a hearing aid, make sure to get a hearing aid prescription. For more details of our hearing test & assessment, and hearing aid services, please contact HK Hearing & Speech Centre.
HK Hearing & Speech Centre
Specialist of Hearing test & assessment,
and Hearing Aid Prescription