Myth #4 Hearing aids just make everything louder, including background noise.

This is a very common misconception and needs to be addressed in terms of having realistic expectations for the hearing aids, as well as selecting the appropriate hearing aid model to suit the individual’s lifestyle.

Individuals with hearing loss are typically hearing sounds softer than they should. They live in a much quieter world so when they wear hearing aids that amplify sounds to an appropriate level, it may be a shock to them. It will take at least several months for the brain to grow accustom to this new level of stimulation and to re-learn how to filter out unwanted sounds. Therefore, at the beginning, it is normal to feel that everything is louder.

The other piece to the puzzle is choosing the appropriate hearing aid for the individual. Hearing aids come with different computer chips that have various degrees of noise reduction. Generally, hearing aids with a premium level computer chip have more features to filter noise in complex environments like restaurants, shopping malls or reverberant environments. The standard computer chip has less of those features, therefore being more suitable for individuals who live a quiet lifestyle. Some hearing assessments can also test how well individuals process speech in a noisy environment; results may predict whether certain individuals may experience more difficulties in noise with the hearing aid and whether they may benefit from devices with stronger noise reduction.

If a long-term hearing aid user feels that background noise is bothersome, they may consider raising this concern with their audiologist who may be able to adjust the hearing aid settings or recommend a more suitable hearing aid.