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Experienced hearing healthcare professionals answer your questions about hearing loss, hearing aids, and overall hearing health.

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Question: Do hearing aids prevent or slow further hearing loss?


The answer to this question is complex, because there are two aspects to hearing loss. First, physical hearing—do your ears hear a stimulus or a particular sound? In most cases, hearing aids won’t prevent or slow physical hearing loss. Only time will tell what will happen. If your ability to hear certain tones decreases—easily confirmed through a hearing test—your provider can always adjust your hearing aids to increase the loudness for those areas of difficulty.

The second aspect is comprehension. Research shows that the average person waits up to 10 years before addressing their hearing loss. Not being able to consistently hear what is going on around you can cause the auditory processing parts of the brain to atrophy over time, which decreases your ability to comprehend speech, even after you address your loss with hearing aids. This is because the brain hasn’t had to interpret and process speech in the same way it did when you had normal hearing. Once you start wearing hearing aids and have the volume you need to hear, it’s like saying to the brain, “Hey, wake up! What are you going to do with all this information I’m giving you?”

By keeping the brain active, processing, and interpreting the information it receives, hearing aids can help slow down the loss of understanding, because they help maintain your brain level activity. When it comes to addressing hearing loss, it’s much more important to help you maintain your ability to understand than it is to increase the volume of the sounds you hear.

Avatar of Ky Willbanks

Ky Willbanks, Au.D, HIS, CCC-A, practices at Hear Life Audiology in Lees Summit, MO

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