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Your Health

Struggling to Hear?

Tiny devices can keep you connected.

Many people slowly lose their hearing as they get older. Not being able to hear well can make it hard to communicate. That can affect your relationships, emotional well-being and work performance.

For those who need them, hearing aids can help. These electronic devices are worn in or behind the ears. They make sounds louder. Close to 29 million adults could benefit from hearing aids, yet only one in four has ever used one.

An exam of your ears, nose and throat might detect a physical reason why you’re not hearing as well. You may want to start by talking with your primary care provider or an ear, nose and throat doctor, also known as an ENT or otolaryngologist.

A doctor can look for earwax, infection, injury or another reason for hearing loss. A hearing test can show the type and amount of hearing loss. For a hearing test, your doctor may refer you to an audiologist.

Wise Choices

Do you need your hearing tested?

If you answer yes to several of these questions, you may want to get a hearing test:

  • Is it hard to hear or understand others?
  • Do you get frustrated trying to hear things?
  • Do people get frustrated because they need to repeat what they say to you?
  • Do you turn up the TV or radio louder than those around you would like?
  • Do you have trouble hearing what people are saying in restaurants or at the movies?
  • Is your social life, school or job limited by your problem with hearing?

If earwax or an ear infection is the cause, the hearing loss may be temporary. Other causes, such as nerve damage, may lead to more permanent hearing loss. Nerve damage can be caused by loud noises, as a side effect of certain medicines or for other reasons. Hearing aids may help in these cases.

Some people don’t want to try hearing aids because of how they think it might look to others.

“Hearing loss is far more obvious than a hearing aid,” says Kelly King, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) hearing health expert. “The hard work people do to compensate for their hearing loss, and the mistakes they sometimes make when communicating, make the loss more noticeable to those around them than a hearing aid.”

Now, advances in technology are making hearing aids less visible. “One of the biggest changes that has taken place in the last 15 years is a major reduction in the size of these devices,” King says. Some can be hidden inside the ear canal. Others are worn over the ear.

Choosing the best device for you will depend on factors like cost, features and your amount of hearing loss. Today’s hearing aids offer different features. For example, some can connect to your mobile phone, TV or other devices using Bluetooth technology. That means you can talk on your phone and stream music directly to the speakers within the hearing aids without wires.

It’s important to understand that hearing aids can’t restore your hearing the way that reading glasses correct vision. Instead, a hearing aid can help you make the most of your remaining hearing by making sounds louder. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard the soft sounds of speech, your brain may need time to relearn and translate those sounds for you.

Do you think you may need a hearing test? Take the quiz in the Wise Choices box to help you decide.

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Editor’s Note:
This article is provided by NIH News in Health.

The Effects of Service-Delivery Model and Purchase Price on Hearing-Aid Outcomes in Older Adults: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Humes LE, Rogers SE, Quigley TM, Main AK, Kinney DL, Herring C. A
m J Audiol. 2017 Mar 1;26(1):53-79. doi: 10.1044/2017_AJA-16-0111. PMID: 28252160.





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