(Last updated Nov 5, 2020)

Will Hearing Aids Make My Hearing Worse?

If you’re considering buying hearing aids, you may be wondering, “will hearing aids make my hearing worse?” It’s a valid question, and like so many questions relating to hearing aids and hearing loss, the answer is “maybe” or “it depends.” In short, if you are wearing properly fitted hearing aids that have been programmed by a hearing provider, the answer is “no”, or it is highly unlikely wearing hearing aids will make your hearing worse. But is there a chance? Absolutely. Below I’ll provide an overview of what you need to watch out for as you consider hearing aids, and how to prevent your hearing aids from making your hearing loss worse.

How can I be sure hearing aids won’t make my hearing worse?

My first piece of advice is to have a proper hearing test, and then get hearing aids programmed from a licensed hearing provider. Armed with the results of your hearing test, your hearing provider will program your scores in to your new hearing aids. The hearing aids will come from the manufacturer with a “maximum safe level” whereby the sound cannot exceed. In addition, your hearing provider has tools at their disposal to prevent sounds from getting so loud that they could damage your hearing. As long as your aids are properly programmed, they will not make your hearing loss worse.

In what cases could hearing aids make my hearing worse?

If you are wearing hearing aids that were programmed for someone else, there is a good chance they could be damaging your hearing. When hearing aids are programmed they are set to amplify certain frequencies of sounds at certain levels of intensity based on the wearer’s needs. It follows that if your hearing aids are over-amplifying at a particular frequency, your hearing at the frequency could be harmed. This is the strongest argument against buying hearing aids online that are remotely programmed, or wearing hearing aids that were not programmed for your loss, and it’s one of the reasons why many states have laws preventing the sale of hearing aids online.

Now, in a roundabout way, wearing a properly fitted hearing aid can be detrimental to your hearing, if you actually need two hearing aids but only use one. The job of hearing aids is to stimulate the central auditory pathways and reduce sensory deprivation. When one ear is not fit and it should be, that ear is then deprived of the stimulation and benefits to your brain of keeping the processing of sound going. In this case, it is likely that the pathways from your ear to brain will essentially “atrophy”, resulting in a greater difficulty hearing in that unaided ear. This is a big reason why it is almost always recommended that you wear two hearing aids. In addition, many hearing aids today work as a pair, so when only one is worn they are not performing at their maximum capability.

So in short, if you decide to get hearing aids, get them from a local provider who can fit them personally to your ears after a comprehensive hearing test. Then, if results indicate that you need two hearing aids, wear two hearing aids! Following those simple guidelines will almost completely eliminate the chances of your hearing being damaged further by hearing aids.

If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.

Jeff Hall Jeff Hall Jeff is a California licensed hearing aid dispenser and the President of ZipHearing- one of the largest discount hearing aid suppliers in the United States. Jeff lives in San Diego, CA with his wife and 2 young daughters. You can learn more about hearing aids and watch Jeff on ZipHearing's Youtube channel.

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