How do I know if i need a hearing aid?

It can be difficult to know whether your hearing has declined adequately enough that you need a hearing aid.

Hearing loss is usually a gradual process and often it’s other people who notice us becoming hard of hearing before we do.

Let’s take a look at some of the common signs of hearing loss to help you understand if now is the right time to get a hearing aid. Plus, we’ll respond to some common questions and concerns about having a hearing aid to help you decide if a hearing aid is right for you.

Common signs that you might need a hearing aid

There are three common signs that your hearing loss is severe enough that a hearing aid could be helpful.

1. You turn up the television volume

If you find yourself regularly turning the TV up to hear it, particularly if others comment that the volume is too high for them, it could be time for a hearing aid. The hearing aid essentially serves as an amplifier so that you can comfortably hear the television and radio.

2. You have to ask people to repeat themselves

You might be ready for a hearing aid if you regularly have to ask other people to repeat themselves because you missed what they said the first time. Alternatively, you may have significant hearing loss if your family and friends frequently comment on your inability to hear certain noises, or they tell you that you’ve misheard them.

3. You hear sounds but they’re unclear

Many people with hearing loss struggle with high-frequency noises. It’s the clarity of the noise that’s the problem rather than the volume. If you can hear sounds but they seem unclear or muffled, you could benefit from a hearing aid. Modern hearing aids can selectively amplify certain frequencies to give a fuller ability to hear.

Who is not suited to a hearing aid?

The vast majority of people with hearing loss could benefit from a hearing aid, but there are three groups of people for whom a hearing aid wouldn’t be beneficial.

1. Those with total hearing loss

Individuals with no hearing at all can’t be helped by a hearing aid because amplifying noise is of no benefit when no sound can be heard at all. Cochlear implants are the only suitable option for people with total hearing loss.

2. Those with poor speech discrimination and normal hearing

Sometimes people struggle to understand speech despite having normal hearing test results. This is known as poor speech discrimination. A hearing aid wouldn’t help in these cases.

3. Those with chronic discharge from the ears

People with chronically discharging ears often experience hearing loss, but they are not suitable for a traditional hearing aid because the discharge would be blocked by the hearing aid. In these cases, bone-anchored or bone-conduction hearing aids are a better solution.

Frequently asked questions about hearing aids

Many people put off getting a hearing aid because they have some preconceptions about how they work, what they look like, and who they’re for. The following FAQs should help to put your mind at ease.

Will the hearing aid be very conspicuous?

Modern hearing aids are small and discreet, making them far less noticeable than hearing aids once were decades ago. Depending on the type of hearing aid you choose, it may be barely perceptible to other people. Even so, we are now so used to seeing people wear wireless earphones, headphones and earpieces that few people will blink an eye at the sight of a modern hearing aid.

Do hearing aids make hearing worse?

It’s a myth that hearing aids make our ability to hear without them worse. In rare cases, and only in individuals who have had profound hearing loss since they were born, the high level of sound the hearing aid produces could potentially damage residual hearing, but even that is unlikely with modern hearing aids. The vast majority of people will not experience any hearing damage from using a hearing aid.

Do hearing aids make it more difficult to deal with background noise?

Since hearing aids amplify all sounds, some people find that they struggle with unpleasant background noise when they start wearing a hearing aid. However, any amount of hearing loss can make it difficult to listen to specific sounds when there’s lots of background noise. Plus, modern hearing aids are more effective than ever before in limiting background noise, so many people find that a hearing aid helps them to cope with noisy environments.

Will I adjust to a new hearing aid?

There is an adjustment period for everyone who begins wearing a hearing aid for the first time. This is because they notice sounds that they couldn’t hear before, and therefore struggle to focus their hearing on the thing they want to listen to. It takes a while for the brain to get used to recognising these background sounds, but with perseverance, it becomes easier.

Do I need two hearing aids if I have hearing loss in both ears?

Some people benefit from having two hearing aids and others benefit from just one. It depends on the severity and type of hearing loss they experience. An audiologist will help you to determine if you’re better off having one or two hearing aids.

Are hearing aids complicated to use?

Modern hearing aids are incredibly simple to use because they can be programmed to an automatic setting by an audiologist so that you don’t have to manage the controls yourself. Some have a range of automated settings that you can adjust with the push of a button or even via an app on your phone.

Am I too young for a hearing aid?

Hearing loss is a common side effect of ageing which is why we associate hearing aids with older people. However, people can experience hearing loss at any stage of life and there should be no stigma attached to using technology to better enjoy life. The younger you are, the more quickly you will adapt to a hearing aid, so if you have noticed signs of hearing loss it is far better to consider a hearing aid sooner rather than later. You’re never too young, or too old, to start using a hearing aid.