Can Hearing Aids Cause Hearing Loss
One of the major concerns many people have when buying hearing aids is their hearing loss will worsen if they start wearing hearing aids. You might hear stories of people who wear hearing aids and, after a few weeks of doing so, they seem to have a harder time hearing without their devices than they did before using them. However, the reality is that it’s a matter of perception and their brains tricking them.
Perception, hearing, and your brain
Prior to wearing hearing aids, it’s likely that your hearing loss progressed gradually. Your brain has gotten used to hearing fewer sounds and straining to discern conversation, and subsequently perceives this level of hearing as “normal”.
However, when you begin wearing hearing aids, you brain receives information it has not gotten in quite some time and adjusts to recognize this as the new “normal”. As a result, trying to hear without hearing aids may seem like it is worse than it was before because your hearing loss has become more noticeable.
A helpful example
Consider 70 degrees Fahrenheit. After you’ve been out at the beach all day in 90-degree weather, going inside to a room that is 70 degrees feels cool, since your body has adjusted to consider 90 degrees as normal. However, when you’ve been out shoveling snow in the winter, going inside to a 70-degree home feels warm because, again, your brain and body have come to consider below 30 degrees normal. The temperature of the room in question hasn’t changed, but your perceptions have.
In the same way, when you begin wearing hearing aids, your brain learns to take in the new information, and then your hearing loss without hearing aids becomes more noticeable. Your hearing seems muted and diminished without your devices, but it already was; you just notice it more because you’ve been experiencing better hearing with the hearing aids.
So hearing aids don’t make hearing loss worse?
Under the majority of circumstances, the answer is no. Programming the hearing aids properly is critical, as hearing loss is often caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises (above 80 decibels is typically considered the threshold). If your hearing aids are programmed to make noises louder than necessary, this can be problematic as they may cause damage. However, if hearing aids are programmed correctly, fit well, and filter sounds properly, then they should not damage your hearing.
Do hearing aids slow or stop hearing loss’s progression, then?
Hearing aids can help slow the progression of your hearing loss. Are you familiar with the saying “use it or lose it”? Typically, people use this phrase to refer to muscle atrophy and the like, but it applies to your hearing as well. In order to stay healthy, nerves need stimulation. When you have hearing loss, some of your auditory nerve cells aren’t being used as often, so they can weaken further. Plus, your brain is working harder to hear sounds due to less information coming in through those damaged or weakened nerves. The combination of the two leads to further hearing loss. Meanwhile, wearing hearing aids amplifies sounds you would struggle to hear otherwise, stimulating the auditory nerve cells and “exercising” them, so your hearing (and quality of life) stays optimal under the conditions.
Hearing aids are really expensive, though. Is putting off purchasing them an option?
As mentioned above, the longer you go without hearing aids, the less “exercise” your auditory nerves get, and the worse your hearing loss may become. However, there is another option. While custom hearing aids may be expensive, MDHearingAid offers a selection of affordable hearing aids that can help you improve your quality of life and slow the progression of your hearing loss. Check out our customer reviews to find out why people love our hearing aids, and if you have any questions, contact us online, and we’ll be happy to help!