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The surprising thing about hearing loss and uncomfortably loud sounds

If you have a moderate to severe (or worse) hearing loss then chances are that as well as struggling to hear speech and other sounds you also struggle with sounds that are too loud for you. I know I sometimes do, doors shutting in our office seem loud to me, running water always sounds a bit too loud as well.

Many times over the years I’ve been in situations where I have had to turn my hearing aids down or move aware from a loud sound while everyone else around me didn’t seem in the slightest bit bothered by it. Turns out that this is a very common problem for those with hearing loss and especially those who wear hearing aids. We really do perceive many loud sounds to be louder than people with normal hearing do.

The reason we perceive some loud sounds to be louder than they really are is because of a thing called recruitment. I’m going to write a separate article about recruitment but basically it occurs as a result of a sensorineural hearing loss and it happens because our brains are trying to compensate for our damaged nerves by using some of the remaining good nerves as well.

The worse your hearing loss is the more likely you are going to suffer from recruitment. If you are having a lot of trouble with noise that is too loud and it’s effecting your ability to hear, or worse, stopping you from wearing your aids, you should speak to an audiologist as all modern hearing aids can be configured to help minimise the loud sounds.