Before wearing new hearing devices, many patients cautiously ask if wearing hearing aids will make them dependent on the devices or damage their hearing. Often patients will return after wearing their new hearing aids for a few weeks and say “Help! My hearing has worsened! I cannot hear without my hearing aids!” While it seems as though your unaided hearing has gotten worse, what’s really happening is adaptation to hearing aids. Your brain is getting used to hearing all of the sounds you’ve been missing that are now provided by your new hearing devices. Hearing the breadth of the sounds around you has now become your “new normal”. Therefore, when you take that input away (i.e., take off your hearing aids), your brain notes a stark contrast between the have and have not of sound. Now that you are accustomed to all of the input of the world around you, the unaided world of hearing loss seems dull and quiet. If you really believe you have had a shift in unaided hearing, we will perform another hearing test to verify there has been no shift and to set your mind at ease.
Though it may seem that increasing sound levels by wearing hearing devices can be damaging to your ears (we’ve all been warned about turning our music up too loud!), properly programmed hearing aids will not, themselves, damage your hearing. Hearing aids are not hearing protection by any means, but they do have limits set on them for both safety and comfort purposes. If you are exposed to dangerously loud sound, your ears are not any more at risk of damage than someone with normal hearing exposed to the same damaging sound.
The auditory system is complex and able to learn what to do with new input. The more you wear hearing aids, the more your brain and ears will adapt to your “new normal” that has you hearing what you’ve been missing! To get back into the sounds of your life, contact our audiologists at (972) 566-7600 to schedule an appointment.