Will wearing hearing aids make my hearing worse?

The following is a guest post by Jeff Hall, a hearing instrument specialist and founder of US based ZipHearing.com – a website where you can learn about hearing loss, compare hearing aid prices, features & more, and then find a provider near you to work with.

One of the first questions many people have when considering hearing aids for the first time, is whether or not wearing hearing aids can actually make your hearing worse. The idea that hearing aids can make your hearing worse is actually a pretty common myth, so let’s look to an authority for the appropriate answer.

Taken straight from ASHA’s website:

Myth: A hearing aid will damage your hearing.

Fact: A properly fitted and maintained hearing aid will not damage your hearing.

While the answer to this question from ASHA and other authorities is “no,” that does not mean that if you wear hearing aids you are in the clear. Hearing aids can actually make your hearing worse.

The key word in ASHA’s response is “properly.” The hearing aid industry is one that is heavily regulated- and for good reason. The truth is, a hearing aid that is not properly fitted by a hearing instrument specialist can in fact damage your hearing. When hearing aids are properly fitted, there are quite a few factors taken in to account; the most important of which is ensuring that the hearing aids are fit to the precise needs of the wearer. This fitting process is done using complicated software which controls many features of the hearing instruments and ensures that they are precision-fit for a particular hearing loss. That is, the hearing aid’s output must exactly correspond with an individual’s audiogram (the results of a hearing test).

When individuals “self-diagnose” and buy hearing aids online, through the mail, or have them programmed remotely, it is impossible to ensure that the hearing aids are fit precisely to the corresponding audiogram, and to the wearer’s needs. When this happens, there is a very real risk of having hearing aids programmed in a way that can cause further damage to the individual’s hearing. For example, if you hear a certain pitch or tone just fine naturally (with no amplification), and the hearing aids then amplify or over-amplify that particular frequency, there is a chance that your hearing in that frequency could actually diminish as a result. On the flip side, it can be just as detrimental to spend thousands of dollars on hearing aids, only to have them remotely programmed and subsequently under-perform (with not enough amplification) as a result of the lack of face-to-face fitting sessions in a hearing provider’s office.

There are numerous features in a hearing aid which need to be precisely adjusted face-to-face with your hearing provider in order to ensure that your hearing aids are fit properly and won’t cause further hearing loss. At  ZipHearing, we strongly advise individuals to contact a local hearing provider to have a complete evaluation done in person. If hearing aids are recommended, you can rest assured that a properly fitted set from your hearing provider will not further damage your hearing.