Do HA's make your hearing worse?

My question is whether or not HA’s make your hearing worse. In several posts people have mentioned the HA did worsen their hearing over time - due to loud volumes… and others have indicated the fear that this would happen and therefore they keep the volume very low.

What’s the real scoop on this? Do we need to keep the volume as low as possible? It kind of makes sense that we should do that - but I wondered what the data is.

Thanks for your responses. I’ve worn aids for 15 years and just recently switched to Verite’s - which I love.


No…hearing aids will not make it worse. Todays hearing aids have limiting capabilities that can be set by your provider. And actually by stimulating your ear’s it can actually help slow down the continued progression of hearing loss worsening.

I’ve fit patients with one aid (usually because of budget) and years later the aided ear had less change at retesting then the un-aided ear.

Thanks Mike - that’s good to hear (no pun intended).

I’m 41 years old and have worn HAs almost all of that time. I only have my audiograms going back around 15 years or so. They show very little change in that time - perhaps some minor fluctuations that may be due to different testing procedures, time of day or just my moods at the times of testing, or just plain age.

Personally, I’ve never liked really loud noises, with or without HAs. I actually have my current pair set at level 3, rather than the level 4 that was recommended, and it works really well for me. Sounds are plenty loud and I rarely mess with volume.

Do what is comfortable for you, so long as it actually works. Sounds will almost certainly seem too loud at first, but you’ll likely acclimate soon enough. Just be certain to tell your audi if it is actually painful though.

Good luck!

I can find no technical articles or studies on this subject. Without data any comments are just a matter of opinion.

My opinion is they do if the volume exceeds 85 - 90 DBA for 8 hour exposure. Niosh and other groups state that the hair cells are damaged above this level and have research to prove it. Guide lines are published and enforced for protection in the workplace. The left ear usually is poorer then the right ear in the US because of driving. In the UK the opposite is true. Noise kills hair cells in the ear. It is also accumulative. 15 minutes a day of 100 db over a period of time will permanently damage your ears.

So by what magic would a hearing aid with a db level of over 90Db not damage the cells? Noise is noise,.

NIHL(noise induced hearing loss) can be attributed to about 25% of the 40 million people with hearing loss . Over time or even a one time exposure, the hair cell’s hair like sterocilla get damaged or broken.

How loud is common noise?

Conversation= 65dba.

Ear phone music = 100DBA

Gun Shot = 140-190 dba. After many lawsuits the VA now admits Vets have damage and the VA now provides HA to Vets. One gun shot can permanently damage the ears for ever.

Radio Shack sells a DB meter for measuring DB if yoiu want to learn how loud your environment is.

I have certainly heard this argument with hearing aids for profound losses. Usually the outcome of the argument is that the benefits of aiding the loss now outweigh the risk of the hearing getting any worse, because the difference between 90dB loss and 100dB loss is not a lot in practical terms, and it is certainly (usually) better to have a hearing aid and take the risk than have no hearing aid and therefore no hearing.

The other rebuttal for this research is usually that NIOSH and such are concerned with continuous noise such as that from machinery. Even fitted with a hearing aid that will output conversation at 90dB, most users will not stand in an environment of noise all day long, they will move from environments of loud noise (where the aid outputs similarly to moderate noise) to moderate noise (output at 90dB for this example) and soft noise (output either below 85dB - conisdered the safe level for any exposure - or is not amplified at all because the wearer will never expect to hear it).

Should it happen to be that the wearer of a powerful hearing aid in fact does tend to be in an environment of noise all day long, that is when there is need for a more considered measurement of the received noise, rather than the ambient noise. Which is obviously trickier. Say I wear an aid with 40dB of gain at 60dB input, and for this purpose we will make all frequencies the same and presume we do not have a “noise” or “speech in noise” program. So if I spend the whole of my day somewhere like a call centre, where everyone is talking around me continuously all day long, then my ambient noise is below NIOSH guidelines because it’s under 85. But my received noise will be 100dB average, sustained. So there does appear to be an area in which those who wear hearing aids may need to take different precautions. In reality, of course, most aids have a noise and a speech in noise system, and will recognise that this environment is not useful to the wearer, and will cut some of the volume off.

I am not saying, incidentally, that I agree or disagree with any of these theories and points, just that I have heard them and heard their counter-arguments and these arguments do indeed exist in the fields of quality research.

I am lucky, I have a mixed loss, so the conductive element can be subtracted from the risk, I come with my own ear protection!

Hearing aids cannot stop the mechanical damage occuring in hair cells through ageing, genetic factors etc. So aiding an ear WILL NOT slow down the progression of hearing loss! That is absolute non-sense. Hearing aids for mild-to-severe losseses are set with an MPO and output limiting to reduce the chances of noise induced hearing loss through hearing aid use. In profound losses the issue is more problematic as Rose has pointed out.

Hearing aids can however stimulate the central auditory pathways, reducing sensory deprivation, keeping the processing of sound in your brain going for a longer time than if you were unaided. That is a big reason for always trying to fit both ears when indicated, is so that the unaided ear is NOT deprived. Even choosing a cheaper option so the client can afford to be fitted in both ears is more beneficial than choosing to fit one very good, but expensive hearing aid in one ear. If you fit one ear only the other unaided ear will likely deteriorate centrally, through the brain’s connections to the ear, start weakening, due to deprivation.

Remember, the ear is basically just the brain’s microphone. You actually hear and understand with the brain not the ear.

Your hearing can get worse if you are not wearing properly fitted/programmed hearing aids. That means that you can’t program all hearing aids to the same levels. That is why you need to see a professional. That is part of why in California, hearing aid dispensers or audiologists are forbidden by law to program or even make any determinations on mail order or internet sale hearing aids.