Most of the time hearing loss begins so gradually that it goes unnoticed. Here are a few top warning signs to help you determine whether hearing loss is present:
- You often ask people to repeat themselves
- People say you play radio or TV too loudly
- You struggle to hear in crowded places like restaurants and malls
- You have a hard time hearing women, children, and others with higher-pitched voices
Few physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Since most people with hearing impairments often hear well in quiet environments, it can be more difficult to recognize you have an issue than you think. If you suspect you have an issue, make an appointment with a hearing care professional to have your hearing tested.
Most hearing loss results from exposure to loud noise or the aging process, both of which cause wear and tear on the part(s) of the inner ear that send sound signals to the brain. Scientific research has also linked certain genetic conditions and diseases to hearing loss. This type of damage is rarely reversible, but hearing instruments can usually improve hearing.
Some other causes of hearing loss are not permanent and may be treated medically. These include excessive cerumen (earwax), infections of the middle ear, and malfunctions of the middle ear bones. A complete diagnostic hearing test can identify which type of hearing loss you might have and whether surgery or medication can help.
In their simplest form, hearing aids are electronic devices that pick up and amplify sound. Sounds that you normally wouldn't hear are increased in volume so you hear them better. Most modern hearing instruments do much more than amplify sound. High-tech features can be chosen based on your lifestyle and hearing needs.
Prices vary widely based on the technology incorporated in the hearing aids, the options selected, and the services included with the purchase. Hearing care professionals and hearing aid providers offer financing plans and options to meet all budgets. You should also check to see if you qualify for free or discounted hearing aids from the following:
- Your employer
- Your union
- Veterans Administration (VA)
- Insurance provider or health maintenance organization (HMO)
- State and private assistance programs
- Local charity
Consumers who buy hearing aids are normally entitled to a trial period, usually 30 days from the time of fitting. During this period, your hearing aid provider will work with you to ensure your complete satisfaction. You will have follow up visits to fine-tune your hearing aids' programs.
Very likely. Hearing again boosts your self-confidence and lowering your stress levels. Use of hearing aids can improve the following:
- Personal relationships. After all, successful relationships depend on successful communication.
- Job performance. Hearing aids eliminate the need to constantly ask “What?” or “Can you repeat that?” and keep you on top of your game.
- Safety. You don't want to miss hearing a smoke alarm, the house being broken into, a dog barking at a stranger, an oncoming car when you're walking, or an ambulance when you're driving.
No hearing aid can restore your hearing to the exact same level as before you experienced hearing loss. However, hearing aids can let you hear sounds that you couldn't before. Your hearing aids will also help you hear better in a wide variety of situations and environments.
Most people who have hearing loss due to damage of the inner ear will have about the same degree of loss in both ears and will need to wear two hearing aids. If you only have a hearing loss in one ear, you might only need to wear a hearing aid in your bad ear, but wearing two hearing aids has been proven to improve speech understanding in noise, ability to localize (find the source of sounds), and overall sound quality when compared to wearing only one hearing aid. Today, more than 80 percent of all hearing aid fittings are for both ears.
Today's hearing aids are medical accessories, much like eyeglasses. There are smaller, more discreet models that are nearly undetectable or completely invisible. In addition to being tiny and discreet, many in-the-ear and behind-the-ear models are available in fashionable colors and styles.