Millions of Americans could benefit from hearing aids, yet many aren’t using them, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. This might be because of myths that hearing aids are bulky or only for older people, or that you need to have extreme hearing loss to benefit from hearing aids. But a simple hearing aid test may help a range of patients with everything from work and school to relationships and self-esteem.
“I have found that even mild hearing losses can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to communicate, particularly in challenging listening environments,” Stephanie Lockhart, MA, director of audiology in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, tells WebMD Connect to Care
If you think hearing aids might improve your quality of life, here’s more on starting the process.
How Do I Know If I Need a Hearing Aid?
According to Cleveland Clinic, signs of hearing loss include:
- Difficulty following conversations
- Needing people to repeat themselves, especially in noisy places
- Constantly requiring a higher TV volume
- Feeling isolated
- Difficulty understanding movies or performances
To confirm your hearing loss, you’ll need to get tested by an audiologist. According to Lockhart, the audiologist will likely:
- Discuss your hearing loss history
- Examine your ears for any wax buildup
- Test your hearing with headphones playing sounds
- Examine your eardrums and ear muscle reflexes
“Nothing done during a hearing test should be painful,” Lockhart says. After your hearing test, your audiologist will determine whether you should pursue hearing aids, get another test, or meet with a physician, Lockhart advises.
How to Find the Hearing Aid That’s Right for You
Hearing aids come in several shapes, sizes, and tones, according to Mayo Clinic. They can be Bluetooth compatible, filter out background noises, and be inserted within or behind the ear.
“Some patients who are very active prefer a completely-in-the-canal style aid,” Lockhart says. “Others prefer the great cosmetic and connectivity options of a receiver-in-canal style.”
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids go completely in the ear, while receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids are attached to a thin wire and speaker, Mayo Clinic reports.
According to Lockhart, things your audiologist will consider when recommending hearing aids include:
- Where you have most trouble hearing
- Cosmetic preferences
- Your manual dexterity, which is your skill with using your hands
- Technological preferences
- Financial concerns like insurance, trial periods, warranties, and return policies
“I would recommend that someone come along with you to that visit,” Lockhart says. “A lot of information will be shared and decisions made and it’s a great idea to have a significant other, family member, or close friend there to be an extra pair of ears.”
Start Your Journey to Better Hearing Today
The earlier you address your hearing loss, the more likely you are to avoid irreversible damage while improving your quality of life. Get the answers you need to start treatment today.