What are the main benefits of hearing aids?

by | Blog

About 15% of Americans over the age of 18, (37.5 million people) report some kind of hearing trouble. Despite that, only 1 in 5 people who would benefit from a hearing aid uses one.

If you have trouble hearing, you should know that hearing aids have the potential to improve your quality of life substantially. They can also make life so much easier for your loved ones, friends, and colleagues.

Why Should You Get a Hearing Aid?

Modern digital hearing aids are highly sophisticated, smart devices that process sounds, cancel background noise, and even let you connect directly to smartphones and other devices.

Hearing is a complex process that involves the ears and the brain. A good hearing aid is tailored to your exact needs. Hearing problems range from mild hearing loss to severe loss and tinnitus. You may need a hearing aid if you:

  • Often complain that other people are mumbling or speaking too softly
  • Have trouble hearing in noisy environments such as restaurants
  • Have to listen to TV or the radio louder than other people
  • Find it difficult to get all the dialogue in movies
  • Have trouble understanding conversations on phone calls
  • Strain to hear conversations, especially when you can’t see people’s faces

Did you know that you can have trouble hearing high-pitched consonants, and still hear normal and mid-pitch vowels perfectly? This is a type of hearing loss that makes it hard to understand what people are saying in normal conversation.

An ear specialist will be able to diagnose your hearing by the results of a hearing exam (audiogram). They can then advise on the right type of hearing aids, whether you need one or two for both ears and other treatment options.

Who Benefits Most From Hearing Aids? 

Everyone with hearing trouble can benefit from hearing aids. However, those with mild to severe hearing loss, especially seniors aged 65 and older, benefit most from using hearing aids. 

Advanced age causes a decline in hearing ability, which in turn can lead to cognitive decline, depression, and social isolation. For such people, having hearing aids early on can slow cognitive decline and prevent the onset of conditions such as dementia.

Children and young adults with hearing loss also benefit greatly from hearing aids. Hearing aids help children develop normally and relate well with other people in addition to improving their learning abilities.

Adults become much more functional in society when they use hearing aids. They can work better, relate well to other people, earn more money, and develop and maintain healthy relationships.

What Types of Hearing Aids Are There?

There are different types of hearing aids that are classified by their technology, design, and placement in or on the ear. The most common ones include:

  • Canal hearing aids fit inside the ear, and some can be nearly invisible. They are unobtrusive and highly effective depending on the kind of hearing loss you have, but may not be ideal because they are difficult to adjust.
  • In-the-ear hearing aids (ITE) fit inside the outer ear. They also work for mild to severe hearing loss but aren’t good for children since their ears are still growing.
  • Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids have a hard plastic case that sits behind the ear and an ear mold to direct sound inside the ear. A slightly different type called mini BTEs are smaller and have plastic tubing that carries sounds inside the ear. These can be great for almost anyone with hearing trouble.
  • Direct audio input allows you to connect to a smartphone, TV, or other devices.
  • A telephone switch picks up sounds from a phone better while canceling background noise.

Hearing aids can also be classified by whether they are analog or digital. The analog aids are cheaper and easier to use, while digital hearing aids use digital technology to adjust the sound.

An ear specialist will determine which type of hearing aids is best for your condition.