When people think of hearing loss they generally think about people not being able to hear soft sounds, which is absolutely true. What they don’t realize is that most of the time those same people are actually MORE sensitive to loud sounds than their normal hearing counterparts. So, in fact, loud sounds can actually be a bigger issue for people with hearing loss than it is for their normal hearing counterparts.
This problem, called “recruitment” is very tricky for those who fit hearing aids. On one hand we need to amplify the specific sounds that our patients have trouble hearing. On the other hand, if the input to the hearing aid gets too loud, the power to the hearing aid could easily exceed the patients Uncomfortable Loudness Level or “UCL.” In the past, the only way patients had to deal with this problem by turning the hearing aids up and down via a manual volume control. This created significant issues as hearing aid wearers were constantly turning their hearing aids up and down in response to sounds that they either couldn’t hear, or were too loud. In either case, the bad situation had already happened. The patient was still struggling to function normally.
The good news is that today’s hearing aids can be set up to have an “automatic volume control.” Using something called “compression”, the Audiologist can manipulate the digital circuit so that soft speech is audible (can be heard), and loud sounds are loud, but not uncomfortable. Does this happen on day one? No. That’s why it’s imperative that patients go through an extensive trial period so that the appropriate adjustments can be made. Once those adjustments are made, the patient can expect to be able to tolerate the volume in any situation.
If you or a loved one is having problems with your hearing, or have hearing aids and are having issues with loud sounds, please give us a call today.
-Kevin Amdahl, Co-Owner and President of Amdahl Hearing, Inc.