While it is possible that a hearing aid may cause hearing damage if it is not fit according to the client’s prescription, properly fitted hearing aids do not cause hearing loss or damage. Think about it this way: if you were to blast someone with loud music over a set of headphones, it could result in some hearing damage, but it wouldn’t mean that headphones in general are harmful.
During a visit to our clinic, we first do a hearing test to make sure the hearing aid is correct and suitable for the client’s hearing loss and lifestyle. During a separate visit, the hearing aids are then programmed to match the hearing loss. There are also some protocols that professionals have to follow. For example, we can verify if the hearing aids are “too loud” and make sure loud sounds are not uncomfortable by checking the hearing aids in real time while they are in the client’s ear. This is completed with a verification system during the hearing aid fitting. There is also a limit set on the hearing aids so they do not amplify past a certain point in order to ensure that a loud sound in the environment will not harm the hearing aid user. During the hearing aid fitting, we spend time with clients to make sure their new hearing aids are sounding comfortable before they even leave our office.
Further, it is important to keep in mind that hearing aids are not used for hearing protection. If a client works in an environment where there is very loud equipment such as a jackhammer, they should use proper hearing protection.
Clients CAN expect the world around them to be sharper and sound louder after being fitted with hearing aids, but this is completely normal. It takes time for the brain to adjust to a new “normal”. Usually, over the next couple of weeks, things start to sound more natural. To compare, think about how your eyes adjust to light after being in a dark room for a while. If you suddenly turn on the lights, it might seem too bright because your eyes need to adjust. Once they do adjust, however, the world around you is clear and full of life. Now think about how this also applies to hearing aids. Once you adjust to your new normal with wearing hearing aids, you may actually find the world around you sounds muffled and very quiet when you take them off!
On average, it can take some people over 10 years to come in and do something about their hearing loss. Sometimes you don’t realize what you are truly missing. The first step is coming in for a hearing test. Let us help you to hear the world around you and fill in the blanks.
Danielle De Roose, BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences