The right timing for hearing aids is crucial. Many people with a hearing loss ask themselves when would they actually need a hearing aid? And the answer is simple. As soon as a hearing loss is present and you would benefit from a hearing aid you should wear one. Common problems which could be improved with hearing aids are:
- Others are only heard unclearly
- The telephone or front door bell is regularly overheard
- Music players or the television have to be turned up louder and louder.
- Background music or background noise can no longer be filtered out so well, i.e. it is hard to follow a conversation, e.g. in a restaurant.
But in many cases, the person with hearing loss does not directly recognize problems with the hearing. Because hearing loss oftentimes evolves very slowly over time. So when the person with the hearing loss itself can not really detect the issue a hearing care professional should be visited routinely. He or she will perform a proper hearing check-up and can tell if it is the right time for a hearing aid.
When the hearing loss is already diagnosed by a professional it is better to get hearing aids earlier than later. The reason is the longer sounds have not been heard the less the brain is able to filter important sounds like noise from unimportant. When you wait too long you will have a longer and harder start.
Because especially in noisy environments you can hear better due to the hearing aids but you can still not understand well. With an early start with hearing aids, your brain is better trained to filter the important from the unimportant noise.
How Do You Know if You Need a Hearing Aid?
A hearing aid is needed when hearing loss is present but not caused by acute illness or trauma. In such a case you will notice some of the following problems:
- You may have problems understanding speech in a noisy environment
- You may have problems loocating where a sound came from
- Family members tell you to turn down the volume of your TV
- Family members may tell you to speak less loudly
- You may have problems distinguishing between certain parts of a word like when many ess are found in a word
- Do you have the impression that your conversation partners speak very softly or mumble?
- Are high-pitched sounds like birdsong not as audible as they used to be?
- Do you have difficulty focusing on the other person and following a conversation?
In those situations, many do not try to improve it but seek isolation. Do not try to avoid those situations. Make an appointment with your local audiologist and talk about the problems you face daily. He will then run a comprehensive hearing test and afterward you will know if you need hearing aids.
How Bad Does Your Hearing Have to Be to Get a Hearing Aid?
Your hearing loss does not have to be bad in order to wear hearing aids. Most people with hearing aids have mild to moderate hearing loss. Depending on the noise level of the environment and the hearing loss of the wearer of the hearing aids the difference with and without hearing aids may not be as big.
This means a person with a mild hearing loss can understand you with and without hearing aids. But it is easier for him or her to follow the conversation because endings of words are perceived easier and clearer and hearing fatigue sets in later.
A mild hearing loss can mean the wearer understands 80% of the spoken words without the hearing aids and 100% with the hearing aids. So most wearers of hearing aids have a hearing which is just slightly worse compared to normal hearing.
When Do Hearing Aids Not Work Anymore?
In cases of severe hearing loss or even complete deafness, even powerful hearing aids no longer help. This is not because the hearing aids do not amplify the sounds sufficiently – the volume does not matter: because around 98 percent of all deaf or deafened people have lost their hearing as a result of the destruction of the hair sensory cells in the cochlea, the cochlea in the inner ear.
The sensory cells, with their fine hairs, pick up sound transmitted from the outer ear through the middle ear to the inner ear. They pass the sound on to the auditory nerve in the form of electrical impulses. If the hair cells are destroyed, the affected person can no longer hear. A cochlear implant bypasses the destroyed or missing hair cells and stimulates the auditory nerve directly. If you want to learn more about the differences form a hearing aid vs a cochlea implant I have another article here for you.