When Your Hearing Aids Work Too Well: Adjusting To Loud Sounds

Getting new hearing aids can be quite exciting; you no longer have to feel embarrassed or excluded when conversing with others. While many new hearing-aid wearers worry about not being able to hear, they may find that their hearing aids hyper-correct the issue. If your hearing aids sound a little too loud, here are some possible reasons and solutions.

You Just Aren't Used to Them Yet

It can take many weeks or months to adjust to your hearing aids. Since you haven't been hearing a full spectrum of sound, you may feel bombarded by background noise. It's important to give yourself some time to adjust as your brain sorts through important and unimportant sounds. If you adjust your hearing aids to a lower volume and start missing softer speech sounds, like "f" or "th," then that's a good sign that the hearing aids were correct, and you just needed to get used to them.

However, louder sounds shouldn't be painful. Keep a set of earplugs on you during your adjustment period. When you go to particularly loud places, like a subway, you can pop them in; then you can take them out for quieter areas and when conversing.

You Are Suffering from Occlusion

Occlusion occurs when an object obstructs a person's ear canal and causes echoes or booming sounds due to sounds vibrating off the object. Since your ears will now be filled with hearing aids, it's a common complaint to hear oneself have a loud voice. You can test for occlusion by turning your hearing aids off. If your voice still sounds loud, then you likely need a different hearing-aid style.

For instance, some hearing aids now have vent-like components that diminish these vibrations. Other hearing-aid styles are smaller and less dome-shaped, so they conform better to your ear and eliminate occlusion.

There Is an Imbalance in the Hearing Aids' Functions

If you've given yourself ample time to adjust to your hearing aids, and you've ruled out occlusion, you should visit a hearing specialist. The frequency and gain of your hearing aids may be off balance. Frequency is the number of wave cycles a pitch goes through in a second, and it is measured in Hertz (Hz). The gain, or amplification factor, is the amount of "loudness" the aid will add in response to sound input.

Since everyone has different hearing loss requirements, finding balance in the hearing aids' functions takes time. For instance, many people lose their hearing in high frequencies first, so the hearing aid may have a large amount of gain for high frequencies. But this large amount of gain may cause things to sound too loud.

Since hearing-aid technology is much more advanced these days, you could go in for testing and have your aids constructed so the gain will adjust itself depending on which frequency range you are hearing. Some people prefer manual volume controls, so you may just need to get adjusted with a hearing aid that you can control, and play around with those settings. For instance, as you turn down on the hearing aid, you may hear a lower-register beeping sound to confirm that you've lowered the volume.

Lastly, you may want to look at hearing aids that have noise reduction features. These features actually shift incoming sounds to a different pitch to make sounds more audible. This means that you don't have to turn your hearing aids up to catch softer sounds, like speech, and then hear loud background sounds along with them. These noise-reduction features also help to eliminate screeching or feedback when the frequency or gain get off balance.

Talk with your audiologist or another hearing specialist for more information on keeping your hearing aids at reasonable volumes.