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Can a Deaf Person Hear With a Hearing Aid?

By Marta Manning
Medically Reviewed by Jordan Glicksman, MD, FRCSC, MPH on January 27, 2021
Hearing aids can amplify sounds and increase awareness of sounds in the environment. Find out how a deaf person can hear with a hearing aid.

Hearing aids have advanced a lot in recent years. Modern hearing aids use tiny computers and microphones to customize sound for the wearer. But can hearing aids allow a deaf person to hear?

Deaf vs. Hearing Loss: What’s the Difference?

If you experience hearing loss, you may be able to hear some but not all sounds. There are four levels of hearing loss:

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe
  • Profound

Deafness refers to the most severe level of hearing loss, profound hearing loss. If you experience profound hearing loss, your hearing loss is so severe that it limits your ability to hear most or all sounds, even loud noises close to your ears.

Can Hearing Aids Help People Who Are Deaf?

Hearing aids work by increasing the volume of sounds. Many people who are considered deaf still have some degree of hearing. If this is the case, specially-designed hearing aids may be able to improve your hearing. Hearing aids can increase your awareness of speech and other sounds around you. They can be used alone or with visual cues, like lip reading or sign language, to help you better recognize and understand speech.

Not every hearing aid is ideal for deafness. Hearing aid manufacturer Sivantos says many deaf people who use hearing aids prefer devices that allow them to customize sound levels depending on the environment. Some hearing aids allow the wearer to choose which sounds to focus on. Since these types of hearing aids tend to be bulkier, many deaf people choose hearing aids that are worn on the body and attached to the ear with a wire, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Some people who are deaf are not good candidates for hearing aids. If you are not a good candidate for hearing aids, you may benefit from cochlear implants or other devices. Your hearing specialist can help you find the best course of treatment for your hearing loss.

“Hearing aids are not corrective devices but are there to aid someone’s hearing, so hearing aids are not always helpful for every severity of hearing loss,” Ohio State Wexner University Medical Center Audiology Manager Eryn Staats, AuD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

Staats recommends seeing both an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) and an audiologist (hearing specialist) for a “full team approach” to treating deafness.

Hearing Loss Can Be Treated and Managed.

In many cases, hearing loss is a treatable condition. It is worth taking the time out to get the answers and treatment you or your loved one deserves. Don’t wait. Start today.