A standard patient question is whether their hearing aid will increase sounds which can be already excessively loud, making those sounds louder still. Fortunately there is a reassuring answer to this specific question.

In short, modern hearing aids that are correctly fitted and adjusted are designed to avoid amplifying sounds that are already very loud. The phrase in bold type is the critical part, and the reason why you should seek specialized help with selecting and fitting your hearing aids.

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. Your individual needs can be met with these digital hearing aids by programming and adjusting the maximum volume and the quality of sounds. If you have primarily high-frequency hearing loss, for example, we might program the hearing aid to amplify those sounds while reducing the volume of lower-frequency sounds. 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. This can make it easier for you to hear voices in the foreground because the hearing aid can detect and amplify those voices while suppressing the noises in the background. These digital hearing aids can even adjust dynamically to volume fluctuations such as a musician beginning a song very softly and then increasing the volume.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.

One thing that hearing aids do not do with regard to loud sounds is protect your ears from them the way that ear plugs would. If you are exposed to dangerously loud sounds, such as those caused by machinery like chainsaws or overly amplified rock concerts, you still could be risking further hearing loss. But properly fitted and properly programmed, your hearing aid should cover most of the situations you are likely to find yourself in.

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