A frequent question asked by people being fitted for hearing aids concerns whether the hearing aids which are made to help them hear weak sounds will make the loud noises too loud for their ears.The response to this common question is quite reassuring.
In a nutshell, modern hearing aids that are properly fitted and adjusted are designed to avoid amplifying sounds which are already very loud. The important phrase in bold type is the reason why you should seek the help of a hearing aid professional.
An explanation of how hearing aids work is required to give a complete answer. Basically, they pick up sounds and transform them into digital information, which is then processed by the microchip in the hearing aid in many different ways before being routed to your ears. These hearing aids are programmable, which means that not only can the maximum volume permitted be adjusted to suit your individual tastes, the actual qualities of the sounds can also be adjusted. An example might be that we program your hearing aid to amplify high-frequency sounds and reduce the volume of lower-frequency sounds if you suffer from primarily high-frequency hearing loss. This preference can be reversed, of course, if you suffer from primarily low-frequency hearing loss.
The newest digital hearing aids can also filter sounds to make them easier for you to understand. For example, if foreground voices are obscured by background noise, the hearing aid can detect the noise and suppress it or lower its volume, amplifying only the voices. If volume levels change – for example if music starts at a low volume but then becomes too loud – the hearing aid can dynamically compensate for it. Directional microphones assist this process by detecting the direction of sounds. They allow sounds from the direction you are facing while suppressing sounds from the side and behind.
Be aware that hearing aids do not protect the ear the way that ear plugs are designed to do. Noise-induced hearing loss can still be caused by loud sounds such as chainsaws or overly amplified rock concerts. However, the most common sounds you encounter should be handled by your properly fitted and programmed hearing aids.