What Are The Possible Side Effects of Wearing New Hearing Aids?

December 23, 2022
Amy Sarow | Doctor of Audiology
Written by
Amy Sarow | Doctor of Audiology
Soundly Staff
Reviewed by
Soundly Staff
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Treating hearing loss is one of the most impactful ways to improve quality of life. However, people sometimes have questions about the downside of wearing hearing aids.  

This article will review common questions people have about hearing aid side effects and help you better understand your options.

Worried about side effects? Find a great care provider.

Properly programmed hearing aids are very safe devices, and millions of people use them each year with great success.

That said, like any medical device, they can take some adjustment and management. 

Common complaints include a feeling of fullness or pressure in one or both ears, an itching sensation, ear infections or distorted sound quality. We'll go through each common question below. 

Before we start, it's important to note that hearing health experiences vary widely. Most issues can be resolved by having your hearing aids appropriately adjusted or by speaking with your hearing care professional.

An audiologist can troubleshoot to find a hearing aid that fits perfectly into your lifestyle and meets your needs.

Do Hearing Aids Make Hearing Worse?

No, properly fit hearing aids do not make your hearing worse. The key is that they are set appropriately for your hearing loss.

 Over-the-counter hearing aids are limited in output to those with mild to moderate hearing loss as a safety precaution.

If you have a moderate or greater level of hearing loss, a professional will adjust your hearing aids to a safe and appropriate level for your hearing loss. 

However, if you'll be in situations with loud sound exposure, for example, at the gun range, it's essential to take your hearing aids out and put in some hearing protection. 

In this situation, damage to your hearing can occur due to the sound intensity, even without a hearing aid.   

Can Hearing Aids Cause Tinnitus?

No—while tinnitus can be caused by damage to the inner ear due to hearing loss or exposure to loud noises, wearing a hearing aid does not cause tinnitus.

In fact, many people find that consistent hearing aid use helps to lessen the sound of their tinnitus. While everyone is different regarding their tinnitus perception, a hearing aid is one tool that can help with managing tinnitus.

You'll want to speak with an audiologist if you have concerns regarding your tinnitus. Read more on tinnitus management here and tinnitus masking hearing aids here. 

Do Hearing Aids Cause Headaches?

In most cases, appropriately fit hearing aids do not cause headaches directly; however, they can be uncomfortable if they don't fit properly or are not appropriately adjusted for your ears and hearing loss. 

If the volume of a hearing device is set inappropriately high, this could pose the risk of headaches or other discomforts. 

At your hearing aid fitting appointment, your hearing care professional will set the device appropriately and consider your comfort level.

You'll want to communicate if anything seems too loud or uncomfortable during the appointment. The goal is always to address your hearing loss comfortably.

The ear canal is very sensitive, and it can take some adjusting to wearing a new earpiece in the ear.

However, it is unusual that the physical fit of the device would cause a headache. Let the audiologist know if you are experiencing discomfort. Read more about earmolds and dome tips here.

Do Hearing Aids Increase My Risk Of Ear Infections?

For the average person, hearing aids do not increase your risk of ear infections as long as they are cleaned regularly and maintained properly

Hearing aid wearers should remove their devices at night while they sleep. This is important not only for the hearing aid's battery life, as rechargeable hearing aids are charged each night, but also for your ear's health. 

If the ear has a device constantly present without breaks, it can become more likely to develop ear infections. The ear needs some time every day when it is free from obstruction. 

If you are prone to earwax buildup, it is important to regularly rinse your ears with warm water and a washcloth (Q-tips are not suggested) or see a professional for ear cleaning as needed. You will also want to change your hearing aid’s wax guard periodically.

My Ears Itch Or Feel Sore When I Wear Hearing Aids—What Can I Do?

If your ears itch or feel sore after wearing your hearing aid, there could be a couple of causes. 

Standard Adjustment period: Itchiness and soreness are not uncommon during the adjustment period in the first few weeks, as the ear is not used to having something placed in the ear canal. Typically it gets better with time. Report ongoing discomfort to your hearing care professional. 

Allergies: While most materials used on ear pieces today are hypoallergenic, it could be the material itself. If you experience itchiness or redness, talk to your doctor. 

Are there side effects if I wear someone else's hearing aid?

If a friend or relative has a spare pair of hearing aids, you may be tempted to use them to hear better.

However, if you've ever tried on someone else's glasses, you've probably realized that their prescription can differ widely from your own.

The same is true with hearing aids. Your hearing loss, ear canal anatomy, listening preferences, and other variables are all considered in the hearing aid selection and fitting process.

What worked for your aunt may be different for you. There is the possibility that the hearing aids can be reprogrammed to fit your hearing loss.

You'll want to speak with a hearing care professional about your specific situation and the cost of reprogramming.

Conclusion

After reviewing these common questions, we hope you feel more confident when considering hearing aids. 

While some risks may still be associated with using these devices, rest assured that these risks are minimal and manageable with proper care and maintenance. 

In addition, considering how much they can help you in your daily life, it is rare for people to find that any side effects outweigh the benefit of properly fit hearing aids. 

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–The Soundly team