Wondering who can benefit from hearing aids? The obvious answer is, anybody who has trouble hearing! And that’s a large number; hearing loss is one of the most common physical conditions in Nevada and across the United States, affecting approximately 48 million people.
But it won’t help with all types of hearing loss – and it may actually be an effective treatment for certain individuals whose hearing is fine!
Understanding Hearing Loss
Hearing loss occurs when tiny hair cells in the inner ear become damaged. This can be the result of a variety of factors including natural aging, noise exposure, disease, trauma, and medication use. Surprisingly, not everybody with hearing loss is aware of their condition.
Symptoms of hearing loss aren’t always easily noticeable because changes to hearing tend to occur very gradually over time. High frequencies are the first to be affected, and your brain is remarkably good at compensating for loss in these frequencies by diverting cognitive resources from other areas in order for you to hear better. Similarly, when the hearing loss is confined to only one ear, the other one becomes more adept at picking up sounds. It takes the average Las Vegas resident with hearing loss a full seven years to seek treatment.
Recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss will help you know when to visit an audiologist. These include:
- You believe that people mumble when they speak.
- You frequently ask others to repeat themselves.
- You have difficulty understanding women and children.
- You experience tinnitus (ringing in your ears).
- You turn up the volume when watching TV or listening to music.
- You have trouble hearing everyday household sounds (e.g., ringing doorbell).
- You have difficulty following conversations in large group settings, especially when there is a lot of background noise.
- You have difficulty hearing unless you are directly facing the speaker.
Are Hearing Aids the Right Solution?
For most people with hearing loss, hearing aids are the best treatment. Sensorineural hearing loss, also known as nerve deafness, occurs when there is damage to the inner ear. There is no cure for this type of hearing loss, but hearing aids are effective for these patients; their ability to amplify sounds enables better hearing. Nine out of ten people with hearing loss suffer from this type.
Those with conductive hearing loss might not need hearing aids. Conductive loss occurs when there is damage to the outer or inner ears. In many cases, surgery or medications can reverse symptoms and restore hearing to normal. Unfortunately, this type of hearing loss is much rarer. Only about ten percent of patients experience conductive hearing loss.
Tinnitus sufferers may also benefit from hearing aids – even if they don’t have hearing loss! While there is a correlation between the two, not everybody with hearing loss has tinnitus – and not everybody with tinnitus has hearing loss. Hearing aids are a surprisingly effective treatment for those experiencing a ringing in the ears; by turning up the volume to boost background noises, they are able to cover up or “mask” the ringing in their ears.
The person best equipped to determine whether you can benefit from hearing aids is an audiologist. If you’re wondering whether you need them, we urge you to schedule an appointment for a hearing test today.