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This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff and is brought to you by Starkey Hearing Technologies

Hearing loss can have a big impact on your life, from your work to your relationships and emotional well-being. For many people, hearing aids can greatly help, especially if you choose the right ones and get help adjusting to them. Here's what you need to know about these devices.

How Hearing Aids Help

A hearing aid is an 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 to hear better when it's quiet and when it's noisy.

Batteries power the hearing aid's electronics.

  • 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 an improvement actually 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, called sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can come from:

  • Disease
  • Aging
  • Loud noises
  • Medications

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 improve or correct it. 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 with this type of hearing loss.

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.

Are you having trouble hearing?