A common patient question is whether their new hearing aid will amplify sounds which can be already too loud, making those sounds louder still. This is a normal question, one for which there is thankfully a comforting answer.

Put simply, as long as they are correctly fitted and adjusted today’s hearing aids are made so that they will not take already loud sounds and make them even louder, possibly damaging the wearer’s ears. The key phrase in bold type is why you should seek the help of a hearing aid professional.

A longer answer to the same question requires an explanation of hearing aids themselves, and the way that 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. For example, if you suffer from primarily high-frequency hearing loss, the hearing aid can be programmed to amplify high-frequency sounds more than low-frequency sounds. This preference can be reversed, of course, if you suffer from primarily low-frequency hearing loss.

Digital hearing aids also have the ability to filter sounds so that you can hear and understand them better. Background noise can be detected and reduced in volume, while voices in the foreground can be detected and amplified so you can hear them more easily. 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.This process is aided by directional microphones that can detect where sounds are coming from and thus reduce the volume of background noise coming from behind or to the sides while increasing the volume of sounds coming from in front of you.

An important point to remember is that hearing aids will not protect your ears from loud sounds like earplugs do. 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 in most situations your properly fitted and programmed hearing aid should handle most of the range of sounds you’re likely to encounter.