Hearing Loss: Should I Get a Hearing Aid?

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Hearing Loss: Should I Get a Hearing Aid?

You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor's recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Hearing Loss: Should I Get a Hearing Aid?

Get the facts

Your options

  • Try a hearing aid. In most cases, you can try it for 30 days or longer and then return it if it doesn't help you.
  • Learn how to live with reduced hearing without the use of a hearing aid.

Key points to remember

  • Some types of hearing loss can be treated and corrected so that you don't need a hearing aid. See an ear, nose, and throat doctor to find out if your hearing loss can be treated and if a hearing aid will help.
  • Hearing aids can help you hear better and feel connected to others.
  • Although it will take some time to get used to using a hearing aid, many people do so and learn how to get the most out of one.
  • You can learn how to live with reduced hearing by paying attention to people's gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice. You might want to take a lip-reading class. These things can help whether you use a hearing aid or not.
FAQs

What is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid makes sounds louder. But it cannot single out one type of sound, such as a voice, and make it louder. It makes all sounds louder. Although a hearing aid doesn't restore normal hearing, it may make it easier for you to carry on your daily activities and to talk with others.

You can wear hearing aids behind your ear, in your outer ear, or in your ear canal. Most newer models fit in the ear or ear canal. There are three major types of hearing aids:

  • Analogue adjustable hearing aids. These make both speech and other sounds louder in the same amount. They are made based on your hearing tests. Your doctor can adjust them a bit to fit your hearing, and you control loudness. They are the least costly type of hearing aids.
  • Analogue programmable hearing aids. These contain a computer chip that your doctor can program based on your hearing loss and how you respond to louder sounds. They can be changed for different hearing situations, such as when you talk with one person in a room or at a dinner party in a restaurant. You can change the settings with a remote control.
  • Digital programmable hearing aids. These can adjust themselves to different sounds such as a voice or noise. They give you more choices in programming than analogue hearing aids. They are the most advanced and the most expensive type of hearing aid.

How can you find out if a hearing aid could help you?

If you think you have a hearing problem and are thinking about getting a hearing aid, look for an ear, nose, and throat doctor (an otolaryngologist or otologist). He or she can check for other problems and find out the cause of your hearing loss. The doctor can also recommend possible treatments.

If the doctor finds that a hearing aid would help, ask him or her to refer you to an audiologist. This specialist can help you choose the type of hearing aid that will work best for you. He or she can help you learn how to get the most benefit from your hearing aid.

What are the benefits of wearing a hearing aid?

Permanent hearing loss can make you feel lonely or depressed or like you have lost your independence. Hearing aids can often help with these issues.

Hearing aids can help you hear better and feel connected to family, friends, and others. They can also make you safer when you drive or when you work around your home. Hearing aids may help with your job, hobbies, and daily activities such as talking on the phone. A hearing aid often can be programmed to mask tinnitus (a ringing in the ear).

Wearing a hearing aid also shows courtesy to others, because you don't have to keep asking them to repeat what they just said. You can again enjoy talking with your family without extra effort.

Will it be hard to adjust to a hearing aid?

It may take from several weeks to months for you to get used to your hearing aid. You may find that:

  • Your hearing aid makes all sounds louder, and you may hear sounds you have not heard for a long time. Your own voice probably will sound very loud. Background noises such as rustling newspapers, clinking silverware, and other voices may bother you. You will have to learn to filter out unwanted sounds.
  • Your hearing changes as your situation changes. How your hearing aid works will be different when you talk quietly to a friend or spouse, enjoy a family dinner, or attend a presentation with a large group of people. In each situation you will have to learn how to adjust your listening.
  • Your hearing aid can be uncomfortable. It will feel odd in your ear at first and may cause some pain and tenderness in the ear canal. But you don't have to wear it 24 hours a day.

Why might your doctor recommend a hearing aid?

Your doctor may suggest a hearing aid if:

  • You have a type of hearing loss that can't be helped by other treatment.
  • Using a hearing aid will improve your quality of life.

Compare your options

Compare

What is usually involved?









What are the benefits?









What are the risks and side effects?









Try a hearing aid Try a hearing aid
  • You wear a hearing aid behind your ear, in your outer ear, or in your ear canal.
  • Depending on what type of hearing aid you get, you can control it for loudness and/or different hearing situations.
  • A hearing aid won't restore normal hearing.
  • A hearing aid can help you hear better and feel connected to others.
  • Hearing better will make you feel safer when you drive or when you work around your home or on the job.
  • A hearing aid often can be programmed to mask tinnitus (a ringing in the ear).
  • A hearing aid can make it hard to pick out certain sounds or adjust to different listening situations.
  • It can take weeks or months to get used to a hearing aid.
  • A hearing aid will feel odd in your ear at first and may cause some pain and tenderness in the ear canal.
  • Hearing aids can be expensive, and your provincial health plan or private insurance may not cover the cost.
Live without a hearing aid Live without a hearing aid
  • You learn to live with reduced hearing by paying attention to people's gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice. You can also learn to read lips.
  • You will not have to spend the money on a hearing aid.
  • You will not have to endure weeks or months of getting used to a hearing aid.
  • You will continue to have reduced hearing.
  • You may feel left out of conversations and not connected to family and friends.
  • Your relationships with family and friends may be affected because you often have to ask them to repeat what they say, or because you always have the TV volume turned up very high.
  • Your job may be at risk because you can't hear as well as others.
  • You may not be as safe when you drive because of your hearing problem.

Personal stories

Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.

Personal stories about getting a hearing aid

These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

For some time I could not hear my family and friends talking to me as clearly as I used to. Sometimes I gave them an answer to their questions that left puzzled looks on their faces, as if I had said the wrong thing. My wife complained about how loud I kept the volume on the TV. So I decided I needed to get my hearing checked. The doctor said my hearing problem could be helped with hearing aids, so I decided to get them.

Sanjay, age 51

I talk on the phone a lot for my job. One day I realized I had been having trouble for some time hearing what people said. I kept asking clients to repeat what they just told me on the phone. My doctor said I had some hearing loss in my left ear, the one I use for the phone. He said a hearing aid would help. But I decided not to get one for now. I don't like the way hearing aids look, and I can get a volume control for the phone or use my other ear.

Andria, age 59

My wife kept kidding me that I needed a hearing aid because I would ask her what the characters on my favourite TV show just said. I began to think that I did need one, so I checked with my doctor. But after she cleaned the earwax out of my ears, I found I could hear much better and didn't need a hearing aid after all.

Colin, age 45

I don't like change and didn't think I could learn to use a hearing aid. I live alone, and I'm pretty set in my ways. But I realized I was missing out on what my grandchildren were telling me. My friends encouraged me to give a hearing aid a try, and my doctor said it could help. It took some time for me to get used to wearing the hearing aid, but I'm glad I made the effort.

Ruth, age 69

Return to the topic Hearing Loss.

What matters most to you?

Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

Reasons to get a hearing aid

Reasons not to get a hearing aid

I need to hear better to do my job and other daily activities.

I hear well enough to get through my day.

More important
Equally important
More important

Paying attention to people's gestures and facial expressions isn't enough to help me understand what they're saying.

I can live with hearing loss by paying attention to people's gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice.

More important
Equally important
More important

My hearing problem is affecting relationships with my family, friends, and others.

I don't feel that my hearing problem affects my relationships with others.

More important
Equally important
More important

I am willing to take the time to adjust to using a hearing aid.

I think it would be too hard to adjust to a hearing aid and get it to work the way I want it to.

More important
Equally important
More important

My other important reasons:

My other important reasons:

More important
Equally important
More important

Where are you leaning now?

Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.

Getting a hearing aid

NOT getting a hearing aid

Leaning toward
Undecided
Leaning toward

What else do you need to make your decision?

Check the facts

1.

No matter what is causing my hearing loss, only a hearing aid can bring my hearing back.

  • TrueNo, that's wrong. Some types of hearing loss can be treated and corrected so that you don't need a hearing aid.
  • FalseYou're right. Some types of hearing loss can be treated and corrected so that you don't need a hearing aid.
  • I'm not sureIt may help to go back and read "Key points to remember." Some types of hearing loss can be treated and corrected so that you don't need a hearing aid.
2.

A hearing aid will be very hard for me to get used to.

  • TrueNo, that's not true. Although it takes some time to get used to using a hearing aid, many people do so and learn how to get the most out of one.
  • FalseYou're right. Although it takes some time to get used to using a hearing aid, many people do so and learn how to get the most out of one.
  • I'm not sureIt may help to go back and read "Key points to remember." Although it takes some time to get used to using a hearing aid, many people do so and learn how to get the most out of one.
3.

Getting a hearing aid can help me feel happier, since I will be able to take part in my family's conversations.

  • TrueThat's right. Permanent hearing loss can make you feel lonely or depressed or like you have lost your independence. Hearing aids can often help with these issues.
  • FalseNo, that's not right. Permanent hearing loss can make you feel lonely or depressed or like you have lost your independence. Hearing aids can often help with these issues.
  • I'm not sureIt may help to go back and read "What are the benefits of wearing a hearing aid?" Hearing aids can often help with issues like loneliness, depression, and loss of independence.

Decide what's next

1.

Do you understand the options available to you?

2.

Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?

3.

Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?

Certainty

1.

How sure do you feel right now about your decision?

Not sure at all
Somewhat sure
Very sure
3.

Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.

Your Summary

Here's a record of your answers. You can use it to talk with your doctor or loved ones about your decision.

Your decision 

Next steps

Which way you're leaning

How sure you are

Your comments

Your knowledge of the facts 

Key concepts that you understood

Key concepts that may need review

Getting ready to act 

Patient choices

Credits

Credits
CreditsHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical ReviewerAndrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerSteven T. Kmucha, MD - Otolaryngology
You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor's recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Hearing Loss: Should I Get a Hearing Aid?

Here's a record of your answers. You can use it to talk with your doctor or loved ones about your decision.
  1. Get the facts
  2. Compare your options
  3. What matters most to you?
  4. Where are you leaning now?
  5. What else do you need to make your decision?

1. Get the facts

Your options

  • Try a hearing aid. In most cases, you can try it for 30 days or longer and then return it if it doesn't help you.
  • Learn how to live with reduced hearing without the use of a hearing aid.

Key points to remember

  • Some types of hearing loss can be treated and corrected so that you don't need a hearing aid. See an ear, nose, and throat doctor to find out if your hearing loss can be treated and if a hearing aid will help.
  • Hearing aids can help you hear better and feel connected to others.
  • Although it will take some time to get used to using a hearing aid, many people do so and learn how to get the most out of one.
  • You can learn how to live with reduced hearing by paying attention to people's gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice. You might want to take a lip-reading class. These things can help whether you use a hearing aid or not.
FAQs

What is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid makes sounds louder. But it cannot single out one type of sound, such as a voice, and make it louder. It makes all sounds louder. Although a hearing aid doesn't restore normal hearing, it may make it easier for you to carry on your daily activities and to talk with others.

You can wear hearing aids behind your ear, in your outer ear, or in your ear canal. Most newer models fit in the ear or ear canal. There are three major types of hearing aids:

  • Analogue adjustable hearing aids. These make both speech and other sounds louder in the same amount. They are made based on your hearing tests. Your doctor can adjust them a bit to fit your hearing, and you control loudness. They are the least costly type of hearing aids.
  • Analogue programmable hearing aids. These contain a computer chip that your doctor can program based on your hearing loss and how you respond to louder sounds. They can be changed for different hearing situations, such as when you talk with one person in a room or at a dinner party in a restaurant. You can change the settings with a remote control.
  • Digital programmable hearing aids. These can adjust themselves to different sounds such as a voice or noise. They give you more choices in programming than analogue hearing aids. They are the most advanced and the most expensive type of hearing aid.

How can you find out if a hearing aid could help you?

If you think you have a hearing problem and are thinking about getting a hearing aid, look for an ear, nose, and throat doctor (an otolaryngologist or otologist). He or she can check for other problems and find out the cause of your hearing loss. The doctor can also recommend possible treatments.

If the doctor finds that a hearing aid would help, ask him or her to refer you to an audiologist. This specialist can help you choose the type of hearing aid that will work best for you. He or she can help you learn how to get the most benefit from your hearing aid.

What are the benefits of wearing a hearing aid?

Permanent hearing loss can make you feel lonely or depressed or like you have lost your independence. Hearing aids can often help with these issues.

Hearing aids can help you hear better and feel connected to family, friends, and others. They can also make you safer when you drive or when you work around your home. Hearing aids may help with your job, hobbies, and daily activities such as talking on the phone. A hearing aid often can be programmed to mask tinnitus (a ringing in the ear).

Wearing a hearing aid also shows courtesy to others, because you don't have to keep asking them to repeat what they just said. You can again enjoy talking with your family without extra effort.

Will it be hard to adjust to a hearing aid?

It may take from several weeks to months for you to get used to your hearing aid. You may find that:

  • Your hearing aid makes all sounds louder, and you may hear sounds you have not heard for a long time. Your own voice probably will sound very loud. Background noises such as rustling newspapers, clinking silverware, and other voices may bother you. You will have to learn to filter out unwanted sounds.
  • Your hearing changes as your situation changes. How your hearing aid works will be different when you talk quietly to a friend or spouse, enjoy a family dinner, or attend a presentation with a large group of people. In each situation you will have to learn how to adjust your listening.
  • Your hearing aid can be uncomfortable. It will feel odd in your ear at first and may cause some pain and tenderness in the ear canal. But you don't have to wear it 24 hours a day.

Why might your doctor recommend a hearing aid?

Your doctor may suggest a hearing aid if:

  • You have a type of hearing loss that can't be helped by other treatment.
  • Using a hearing aid will improve your quality of life.

2. Compare your options

  Try a hearing aid Live without a hearing aid
What is usually involved?
  • You wear a hearing aid behind your ear, in your outer ear, or in your ear canal.
  • Depending on what type of hearing aid you get, you can control it for loudness and/or different hearing situations.
  • A hearing aid won't restore normal hearing.
  • You learn to live with reduced hearing by paying attention to people's gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice. You can also learn to read lips.
What are the benefits?
  • A hearing aid can help you hear better and feel connected to others.
  • Hearing better will make you feel safer when you drive or when you work around your home or on the job.
  • A hearing aid often can be programmed to mask tinnitus (a ringing in the ear).
  • You will not have to spend the money on a hearing aid.
  • You will not have to endure weeks or months of getting used to a hearing aid.
What are the risks and side effects?
  • A hearing aid can make it hard to pick out certain sounds or adjust to different listening situations.
  • It can take weeks or months to get used to a hearing aid.
  • A hearing aid will feel odd in your ear at first and may cause some pain and tenderness in the ear canal.
  • Hearing aids can be expensive, and your provincial health plan or private insurance may not cover the cost.
  • You will continue to have reduced hearing.
  • You may feel left out of conversations and not connected to family and friends.
  • Your relationships with family and friends may be affected because you often have to ask them to repeat what they say, or because you always have the TV volume turned up very high.
  • Your job may be at risk because you can't hear as well as others.
  • You may not be as safe when you drive because of your hearing problem.

Personal stories

Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.

Return to the topic Hearing Loss.

Personal stories about getting a hearing aid

These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

"For some time I could not hear my family and friends talking to me as clearly as I used to. Sometimes I gave them an answer to their questions that left puzzled looks on their faces, as if I had said the wrong thing. My wife complained about how loud I kept the volume on the TV. So I decided I needed to get my hearing checked. The doctor said my hearing problem could be helped with hearing aids, so I decided to get them."

— Sanjay, age 51

"I talk on the phone a lot for my job. One day I realized I had been having trouble for some time hearing what people said. I kept asking clients to repeat what they just told me on the phone. My doctor said I had some hearing loss in my left ear, the one I use for the phone. He said a hearing aid would help. But I decided not to get one for now. I don't like the way hearing aids look, and I can get a volume control for the phone or use my other ear."

— Andria, age 59

"My wife kept kidding me that I needed a hearing aid because I would ask her what the characters on my favourite TV show just said. I began to think that I did need one, so I checked with my doctor. But after she cleaned the earwax out of my ears, I found I could hear much better and didn't need a hearing aid after all."

— Colin, age 45

"I don't like change and didn't think I could learn to use a hearing aid. I live alone, and I'm pretty set in my ways. But I realized I was missing out on what my grandchildren were telling me. My friends encouraged me to give a hearing aid a try, and my doctor said it could help. It took some time for me to get used to wearing the hearing aid, but I'm glad I made the effort."

— Ruth, age 69

3. What matters most to you?

Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

Reasons to get a hearing aid

Reasons not to get a hearing aid

I need to hear better to do my job and other daily activities.

I hear well enough to get through my day.

More important
Equally important
More important

Paying attention to people's gestures and facial expressions isn't enough to help me understand what they're saying.

I can live with hearing loss by paying attention to people's gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice.

More important
Equally important
More important

My hearing problem is affecting relationships with my family, friends, and others.

I don't feel that my hearing problem affects my relationships with others.

More important
Equally important
More important

I am willing to take the time to adjust to using a hearing aid.

I think it would be too hard to adjust to a hearing aid and get it to work the way I want it to.

More important
Equally important
More important

My other important reasons:

My other important reasons:

More important
Equally important
More important

4. Where are you leaning now?

Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.

Getting a hearing aid

NOT getting a hearing aid

Leaning toward
Undecided
Leaning toward

5. What else do you need to make your decision?

Check the facts

1. No matter what is causing my hearing loss, only a hearing aid can bring my hearing back.

  • True
  • False
  • I'm not sure
You're right. Some types of hearing loss can be treated and corrected so that you don't need a hearing aid.

2. A hearing aid will be very hard for me to get used to.

  • True
  • False
  • I'm not sure
You're right. Although it takes some time to get used to using a hearing aid, many people do so and learn how to get the most out of one.

3. Getting a hearing aid can help me feel happier, since I will be able to take part in my family's conversations.

  • True
  • False
  • I'm not sure
That's right. Permanent hearing loss can make you feel lonely or depressed or like you have lost your independence. Hearing aids can often help with these issues.

Decide what's next

1. Do you understand the options available to you?

2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?

3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?

Certainty

1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?

Not sure at all
Somewhat sure
Very sure

2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.

  • I'm ready to take action.
  • I want to discuss the options with others.
  • I want to learn more about my options.

3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.

Credits
ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical ReviewerAndrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerSteven T. Kmucha, MD - Otolaryngology

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