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Can Hearing Aids Cause Damage or Further Hearing Loss?

Looking at the factors that determine whether or not a hearing aid can damage your hearing and tips to protect your hearing.

Can Hearing Aids Cause Damage to Your Hearing?

There are many factors that determine whether or not a hearing aid can damage your hearing with continued use. In this article, we will discuss a few important things related to hearing aid safety. 

Using a hearing aid for the first time can be overwhelming.  You will be exposed to sounds that you have not heard clearly in quite some time.  In the beginning, those sounds may seem loud, and in some cases too loud.   Wearing a hearing aid will give you an opportunity to become part of different listening and social communication experiences.  As you continue to wear the hearing aid, the brain will get used to the sounds that will soon become clear and comfortable and you may not want to be without it. 

Why do people think a hearing aid has damaged their hearing?

Before fitting a hearing aid, a hearing healthcare professional performs a test to determine your level of hearing loss. Following this, you will be given information about your hearing aid and how it works. Your hearing aid will be programmed according to your hearing loss. It will be programmed to ensure that the hearing aid is not too loud and that sounds are comfortable. If you purchase your hearing aids on the Lexie Hearing website, they will be delivered directly to your home. At this point, you will download the Lexie App, take the hearing check, and then fit your hearing aids and program them to your unique hearing profile. 

The purpose of a hearing aid is to amplify specific sounds that you have difficulty hearing in speech or within your environment. With today’s technology, hearing aids come with settings that do not amplify past a specific point so that you are protected from naturally loud sounds in any environment. While this is an important feature, a hearing aid cannot be used for hearing protection. If you work in an environment where hearing and loud machinery are used, such as factories or mining companies, you should use proper hearing protection. 

The type of hearing aid you have can affect the level at which amplification is provided. Some hearing aids have more power than others – your device will depend on your level of hearing loss.  Your hearing healthcare professional or a Lexie hearing expert will make the appropriate recommendation, once they have had a look at your test results. Some people think that their hearing aid damaged their hearing because it is “giving out too much amplification” to sounds. This can be possible, but only if the hearing aid is not programmed or fit according to the person’s hearing loss. In other words, the hearing device itself cannot cause hearing damage, but how it is programmed can. It is important to remember that the hearing aids themselves are not harmful.  

Another reason behind this thinking is that people are not always aware of the adaptation period. Your ears need to adjust to hearing sounds they haven’t been exposed to in a while. Being able to pick up on a soft whistle or opening of a door will become your “new normal,” and suddenly other sounds may seem too loud and you may think that the hearing aid is damaging your hearing. You don’t need to worry, your brain is just getting used to the sounds you’ve missed out on in your daily life.

What can you expect when wearing your Lexie hearing aid?

As a first-time hearing aid user, you may have expectations of what your hearing aid can do. Some of these expectations will be realistic, and some may not be. When you wear your Lexie hearing aids, you will notice your world becoming more precise and sharper because of the “new sounds” you are exposed to. This is perfectly normal!  It may take a few weeks before sounds become natural to you, this is because of the adaptation period. To understand this better, think about what happens to your eyes when you move from a dark room into one that has some lighting. Your eyes will not be comfortable at first because they will need to adjust to the light. The same concept applies to your ears when you use your hearing aid at the beginning. Once you get into the habit of consistent use, understanding the world you live in and those around you will become easier and more natural.  

Tips to avoid damaging your hearing

  1. Have a consultation with your hearing healthcare professional or one of the Lexie hearing experts to ensure that your hearing aid is programmed correctly, and to find out how to deal with the sounds you feel are “too loud” for you. 
  2. Set the volume of your Lexie hearing aid at a comfortable level. Be careful to not increase it too much as this can make sounds louder than what they should be. =
  3. Get into the habit of consistently wearing your hearing aid and in different listening environments (i.e. restaurants, parks, TV room)
  4. Your Lexie hearing aid will come with a variety of slim tubes and domes. It is important that you wear the correct size slim tube and dome and that you put them in your ears correctly. If your hearing aid is not fitted correctly, it can start to whistle (feedback) exposing you to a really high-pitched sound that can make it uncomfortable and can potentially cause damage to your hearing.
  5. Make sure that your hearing aid is always dry. Water can disrupt the wiring in the device, causing it to squeak or whistle.  
  6. Check your ears for excess wax with a health practitioner? Too much wax (hard, flaky, or soft) in the ear can cause a blockage that could lead to the hearing aid whistling, to less sound reaching the eardrum creating the sensation of diminished hearing or even damage to the eardrum.  It is important to clean your hearing aid regularly as wax can cause the hearing aid to break down. Contact your hearing healthcare professional or one of the Lexie hearing experts for further advice. 
  7. Be sure to select the right program when you are in a new environment so that your hearing aid can put in the right settings to suit that environment. 
  8. If you work or are in a naturally loud environment (mine, construction site), remove your hearing aids, and use earplugs or other hearing protection devices

A hearing aid is a precious investment that is intended to help improve how you listen to and communicate with, others. It’s expected that all things will sound new and you may need time to get used to this, but the more you use it, the better for you. 

Remember, your Lexie hearing aid is not harmful, it’s impactful. 

Hearing expert article writer Katlego Mogapi

Written byKatlego Mogapi

B. Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

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