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Can hearing aids make hearing worse?


Over the past two decades my hearing has been steadily declining at a gradual pace. Now that I am in my 60’s it has gotten to the point that I would like to be able to take part in dining room conversations again without struggling to understand people in the same room with me. I’ve heard rumours that hearing aids could actually make your hearing worse. Is this true?


This is a common fallacy. Over the years I have heard many people say statements like “well once you get hearing aids then your hearing is on the slippery slope”. This is completely untrue and in reality the reverse is true. Our ears collect sound and transduce it into electrical signals which are then conveyed to the brain through nerves. Our sense of hearing is actually in our brains! By having an impairment in our ears essentially starves our brains of stimulus. If this starvation continues then the parts of our brains that decode these signals becomes lazy and starts to “unwire” itself. This phenomenon is given the grand title of “late onset auditory deprivation”. In many cases, the provision of amplification from hearing aids can reverse this process but in some cases it cannot. I think perhaps the phrase “use it or lose it” is a bit strong but the foundation is the same. If you have a hearing loss then you should do something about it sooner rather than later. 

Author: Paul Harrison

Date: Wednesday 13th March, 2013

Published in: Hearing Aid Questions

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