Can hearing aids cause further hearing loss?

Timothy Charles Steele, PhD

Audiologist in Prairie Village

18 October 2017 - 2.5K Views

When a hearing aid is appropriately fit, programmed, verified, and validated, there should not be any concerns of hearing loss caused by hearing aid use.  Documenting a real-ear verification measure where the maximum power output (MPO) is measured and adjusted if necessary is critical.  This is one reason among many that working with a trained professional who always utilizes real-ear verification including MPO is so important.  The risks of untreated hearing loss by not using hearing aids are well-documented and far greater than the low likelihood of concerns of hearing damage due to over amplification.  

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Rivka Strom, AuD

Audiologist in Brooklyn

18 October 2017 - 2.5K Views

As long as a real ear measure (REM) test is performed in the office during the hearing aid fitting, you will be fine. During the REM, the output of the hearing aid is measured in your ear to ensure appropriate gain for you to hear well and to ensure that the sounds you are hearing will not get too loud and case further hearing loss. Further, I would like to add that not only should a an appropriately fit hearing aid not cause you further hearing loss but it can help preserve your ability to hear speech clearly. When an individual experiences hearing loss but does not seek treatment, this can result in auditory deprivation where you are depriving the hearing nerve of stimulation and which can ultimately result in further difficulty hearing and understanding speech. The best way to explain this is in its comparison to your muscle where "if you dont use it, you lose it." I wish you the best of luck in "exercising" your hearing "muscle."

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Madison Levine

Hearing Healthcare Provider in Charlotte

18 October 2017 - 2.51K Views

It is possible but not a common issue. As others have written, if they are programmed inappropriately or are meant for someone else's hearing loss then they can cause damage. All hearing aids come with a set maximum power output (MPO) to protect the wearer from the over amplification of loud sounds. A deeper question that I get asked all the time is whether wearing the hearing aids regularly (set correctly) will "wear out" a person's hearing or "overuse" their ears. That is definitely not the case. Filling in those frequencies that you are missing is the way that we keep the nerves in the ear stimulated and practiced at sending a clear signal to your brain. If you think of your hearing like a muscle, then you know that it is healthier to keep it in regular use to keep it strong and healthy. Now, in cases of profound hearing loss, the strength of the hearing aids needed to aid that loss can reach a damaging volume that must be carefully avoided. In fact, when we plug in the devices to program them, a warning usually pops up to inform the practitioner that the devices are capable of reaching 132db+ and should be programmed with caution. These "power wearers" should be counseled that they should attempt to be modest in the volume that they choose to wear their hearing aids on because if they become totally accustomed to the loudest volume there is no where else to go- no room to go up. The MPO should be carefully monitored by the practitioner in this case as well. I hope this gave you some further insight!

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Jasmine Burrington, AuD

Clinical Doctor of Audiology in San Marcos

18 October 2017 - 2.52K Views

If inappropriately programmed, hearing aids may be over-amplifying and causing hearing damage. This is why it is important to see a professional to program the hearing devices, as they keep this in mind when selecting and fitting a hearing device. 

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Qazi Ehtsham Rashid

Audiologist and Clinical ear care specialist in Milton Keynes

19 October 2017 - 2.48K Views

Very much agree with all the answers. This should not be a concern as todays technology and hearing measurements are very sophisticated.

Aslong as you have a professional who takes the appropriate measurements including even basicz like Uncomfortable Loudness Levels it is very unlikely that a hearing aid will cause damage to your hearing.

First time users often feel everything is 'loud' but these sounds settle over a period of a few weeks however if you feel the sounds are uncomfortably loud then do not just put up with it. Get in touch with your Audiologist and see if further fine tuning is required.

Good Luck! :)

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Jeffrey Cline

Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist in Hickory

19 October 2017 - 2.48K Views

Some hearing instruments that are power hearing instruments that exceed certain output levels can do damage to patients hearing if programmed incorrectly. If done by a hearing specialist in the office using Real Ear Measurements and correct audio-metric data hearing instruments will not hurt your hearing. I answer the question at least 5 times a week after seeing 60 patients is my hearing aids making me more reliant on hearing aids. When I take them off I notice I can't hear well at all. In these cases the patient is realizing that the hearing instruments are giving them the needed benefit and forget what it is like to not have hearing instruments. They are reminded when taking them off but did not realize how much they needed them before they got help. 

We are professionals that want to help every patient hear better and using the correct equipment should never hurt our patients hearing. It is possible I guess but would be really hard to accomplish. The chance is extremely slim. 

I have had a case that a patient order hearing instruments off the internet and they were set at full on gain power hearing aid device that did cause them to experience a temporary hearing loss more than the hearing loss they originally had. That is why having your hearing tested and fit by a hearing specialist (using this in general terms) is in your best interest verse mail order hearing amplifiers. 

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Julie Norin, AuD

Doctor of Audiology

18 October 2017 - 2.5K Views

Provided you are working closely with a trained professional to make sure hearing aids are programmed appropriately, and that they are not over-amplifying or too strong for the hearing loss then there should not be a concern. The concerns arise when hearing aids are too powerful relative to the hearing loss, or not programmed appropriately. There is potential for this when individuals purchase hearing aids online or use OTC devices, because they are not programmed properly and might be putting too much sound into the ears. It's always best to find a hearing professional you trust and work with that individual to find what is most appropriate for your hearing needs. This is the best way to address hearing concerns and prevent further damage.

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Mark Butler, AAS

Hearing Healthcare Provider in Sparks

18 October 2017 - 2.51K Views

It is possible for hearing aids to be set high enough that they can cause additional loss.  That being said, if the test was done properly and included uncomfortable levels the dispenser should have insured the maximum power output was set to not exceed the patient comfort level.  If they are programmed correctly to your ears the hearing aids should not cause any additional hearing loss.  However, all the factors that cause hearing loss in the first place are still out there.  If you go to a loud concert and don't wear hearing protection you are most likely going to do additional damage to your hearing.  The same holds true for any other loud noise as well.  Age related hearing loss may continue to occur regardless of hearing aid usage.  So even though we compensate for hearing loss the use of the hearing aids will not prevent further loss from occurring from other causes.

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Christine Pickup, AuD

Doctor of Audiology in Rupert

18 October 2017 - 2.51K Views

Yes, hearing aids can cause further loss, if they are not set properly.  This is also the case if someone tries to wear a hearing aid set for someone else.  It is imperative that hearing aids be fit using up to date audiologic testing and verified with real ear measurements to assure that hearing will not be damaged.  

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