Overview of Hearing Aids

Many people in the United States have a hearing loss. But not all of them get the help they need. Hearing aids can treat many types of hearing loss.

On this page:

Hearing Loss Impacts Your Life

A hearing loss can cause problems at home, at work, and with friends. You may miss important information. You may worry that you ask others to repeat themselves too much. You may have the TV or radio loud, bothering those around you. You may get tired because it takes effort to hear. Hearing loss can even lead to memory problems.

In children, hearing loss can cause problems in school and with friends. To learn more, visit our page on the Effects of Hearing Loss on Development.

Hearing Aids Can Help

Medicine or surgery can fix some types of hearing problems. For example, your child may have problems hearing when she has a hearing loss. The hearing loss will go away when the infection clears. For other types of hearing loss, a hearing aid may help.

An audiologist can find the best type of hearing aid for you. You may need only one hearing aid. Or, you may have hearing loss in both ears. In this case, two hearing aids may be better. Wearing two hearing aids

  • helps you figure out where sounds come from,
  • makes it easier to hear in noisy places, and
  • makes your hearing better overall.

The audiologist will make sure you get the right hearing aid for you. She will teach you how to use it and take care of it. She can answer questions about your hearing loss and hearing aids.

You may need to see your doctor before you get hearing aids. Some federal and state health insurance policies require this. Ask your audiologist about these rules, especially if you have Medicare.

Not All Hearing Aids Are The Same

Hearing aids come in different sizes and designs. Some make sounds louder than others. Some are easier to handle. Some have different features that you can use to make your hearing better.

Here are some things that all hearing aids have in common:

  • A microphone to pick up sound
  • A way to make sounds louder, called an amplifier
  • A receiver that sends the louder sounds to your ear
  • An on/off switch and batteries

Some hearing aids also have earmolds. These fit into your outer ear. They help direct sounds into your ear and improve sound quality. Children will need new earmolds as they grow.

The best hearing aid for you depends on your needs. What do you need to hear? What type of hearing loss do you have? What do you like to do during your day? Knowing this will help your audiologist find the best hearing aid for you.

Adjusting to Your Aids May Take Time

You may need time to get used to wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids can help you hear some things. They do not help you hear everything. And, they may make some sounds louder. It is important to know what your aid will and will not do. People who understand their hearing aid will use it more often.

Sometimes, the aid is not right for you. Laws in most states give you a trial period for all hearing aid sales. You may decide to return your aids during this time. You may still have to pay for the hearing aid fitting or earmold. Talk with your audiologist about these fees before you buy your hearing aids.

You may choose to try a different hearing aid. Maybe you need different features or a different style. Hearing treatment can help you get used to the aids.

Using Other Hearing Devices

Hearing aids are very helpful when talking with another person. They may not work as well at other times. Hearing assistive technology systems, or HATS, can help.

You can use HATS with or without hearing aids. These devices can help you hear

  • over the telephone;
  • in noisy places;
  • in places like restaurants or theaters; or
  • when you are not close to where the sound comes from.

Even if you have hearing aids, HATS may help. Your audiologist can talk to you about devices that may work for you.

Things to Remember

Hearing loss does not have to limit what you do. Hearing aids and good listening skills can help. Follow the steps below to find out if hearing aids will help you:

  • See an audiologist for hearing testing. She can tell you if hearing aids will work for you.
  • Buy the hearing aids that will work for you. Pay attention to these things:
    • Trial period
    • Sales contract
    • Warranty information
    • Features and benefits
    • Maintenance and repair
  • Go to follow-up meetings. Learn how to use and care for your aids.
  • Ask about other devices, or HATS, that will work with your hearing aids.
  • Talk with your audiologists about any problems. Your hearing aids may need an adjustment.
  • See your audiologist on a regular basis. He will monitor your hearing and adjust your hearing aids.

To find an audiologist near you, visit ProFind.

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