Hearing loss can have a big impact on your life, from your work to your relationships and emotional well-being. Hearing aids can make a big difference, especially if you pick the right ones and get help adjusting to them.
How Hearing Aids Help
A hearing aid is a battery-powered electronic device designed to improve your hearing. Small enough to wear in or behind your ear, they make some sounds louder. They may help you hear better when it’s quiet and when it’s noisy. Here’s how they work:
- A microphone picks up sound around you.
- An amplifier makes the sound louder.
- A receiver sends these amplified sounds into your ear.
Not everyone with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. But only 1 in 5 people who could have improvement wear them. Most of the time, they’re for people who have damage to their inner ear or the nerve that links the ear with the brain. The damage can come from:
- Loud noises
Hearing loss that’s due to problems with the ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear is called conductive hearing loss. Most of the time, surgery or other medical help can make it better. But those options aren’t right for everyone. If you have an open ear canal and a relatively normal external ear, a hearing aid may help.
Some people are born without an external ear or ear canal, which means they can’t use a typical hearing aid. Instead, they may be able to use a device that sends sound to the inner ear through the bone of their skull.
How You’ll Get One
If you don’t already know an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT), ask your regular doctor to send you to one. This specialist can evaluate and treat your hearing loss.
The ENT will do an exam to find out what’s causing your trouble. You also will see an audiologist who will do tests to find out the type of hearing loss you have and how bad it is.
These specialists can give you a hearing aid if you need one. Avoid mail-order hearing aids. They often don’t fit well and don’t improve your hearing enough.
If you have hearing loss in both ears, it’s probably best to wear two hearing aids.