A question that we get asked quite frequently is ”Are hearing aids making my hearing worse?”
This question usually comes from fairly new hearing aid users who consistently wear their hearing aids. What they observe is that they hear fine with their hearing aids, but when they take them off, it appears that their hearing is worse than before they started wearing the hearing devices. That leads some people to believe that their hearing has worsened.
Our audiologists are quick to let them know that this is not actually the case. As with many things in life, this is a trick of perception. Studies show that most people let their hearing loss go for an average of 7 years before they seek help. During that time, our brains become accustomed to the poor signals they are receiving and begin to perceive that decreased sound quality as “normal.” This is what makes it difficult for people to get used to the sounds they are hearing when they do finally start wearing hearing aids. Their brains perceive the restoring of the full spectrum of sound as overstimulation. However, again, with time and constant usage, the brain will again accept the better hearing as normal. At this point, once the user wears the hearing aids consistently, once he or she removes them, their hearing loss will become very apparent. What had once seemed normal will seem very muted, because, in fact, it is!
I liken it to when I started wearing glasses. I went for years knowing that my vision was slightly blurry, but refusing to do anything about it. When I started getting headaches, I caved and got corrective lenses. I was amazed when I first put them on that I could actually see individual leaves on trees and blades of grass! However, after a few days, it stopped being a big deal. However, I did notice how blurry things were when I removed my glasses– and then I was kicking myself for waiting for so long! This experience is repeated almost daily in our office as people finally return to the beautiful land of normal hearing.
So, the short answer to our question is no, your hearing aids are NOT making your hearing worse– they are making your life and your relationships better! (And, if you still don’t believe it, we will gladly do another hearing test to put your fears at ease.)
We must provide a slight caveat to that answer, though. We do have to remind people that personal amplifiers (like the kind you see at Walgreens, CVS or advertised in magazines) are NOT custom programmed hearing devices and actually CAN harm your hearing if you turn them up too loud.
If you have questions about hearing loss or hearing aids, please give us a call at 801-770-0801. Don’t wait 7 years to live your life to it’s fullest!