Patients being fitted for a hearing aid to help them hear better often ask what the hearing aid will do with noises that are still too loud for them. Fortunately there’s a comforting answer to this question.
In a nutshell, modern hearing aids which are correctly fitted and adjusted are designed to avoid amplifying sounds that are already too loud. The phrase in bold type is the important part, and the reason why you should seek professional help with selecting and fitting your hearing aids.
The more complex answer has to do with the nature of modern digital hearing aids themselves, and how they work. Digital hearing aids receive sounds through their microphones and turn them into binary information that can then be processed by the hearing aid’s microchip before it is sent to the earphones. 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. On the other hand, if you suffer from low-frequency hearing loss, the hearing aid settings would be reversed.
In addition, modern digital hearing aids are able to filter the sound to make it more understandable. 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. Loud sounds like chainsaws or overly amplified rock concerts, will therefore still be able to cause noise-induced hearing loss. However, the most common sounds you encounter should be handled by your properly fitted and programmed hearing aids.