There are two major types of hearing loss:
  • Conductive hearing loss involves the outer and middle ear. It usually results from a wax blockage, a punctured eardrum, birth defects, ear infections, or it may be genetic. Conductive hearing loss generally can be corrected surgically.
  • Sensorineural—or "nerve"—hearing loss involves damage to the inner ear. It can be caused by aging, prenatal and birth-related problems, viral and bacterial infections, genetics, trauma (such as a severe blow to the head), exposure to loud noises, the use of certain drugs, or fluid buildup or a benign tumor in the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss usually can not be repaired surgically, but it can often be corrected with a hearing aid.
  • One out of 10 Americans has a hearing loss.
  • An estimated 500 million experience hearing loss worldwide.
  • One out of 12 30-year-old Americans is already hearing-impaired.
  • One out of eight 50-year-old Americans suffers from hearing loss.
  • Three out of 1000 children are born with hearing loss.
  • 1.4 million children in the U.S. have hearing loss.
  • The majority (65 percent) of people with hearing loss are below retirement age.
  • 15 percent of “baby-boomers” have hearing loss.
  • 29 percent of people over age 65 have hearing loss.
  • The majority (60 percent) of people with hearing loss are males.
  • More than a third of all hearing loss is attributed to noise: loud music, loud workplaces, loud recreational equipment.
  • Of the 10 million Americans aged 45 to 64 who have a hearing loss, six out of seven do not yet benefit from wearing hearing aids.
  • Hearing loss is second only to arthritis as the most common complaint of older adults
  • Only about 5 percent of hearing losses are improved by surgery or other medical treatment
  • The vast majority of hearing loss (95 percent) can be treated with hearing aids
  • The majority of people with nerve deafness are helped with hearing aids
  • Only 15 percent of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Ask your doctor for a hearing screening since it is not a routine part of physical exams.
  • The vast majority of hospitals now offer newborn hearing screening before discharge from the hospital.
  • Even a mild hearing loss can seriously impact a child’s ability to learn in a school environment.
  • Successful treatment of hearing loss with hearing aids is associated with greater earning power.
  • Treatment of hearing loss will improve interpersonal relationships.
  • Most public places (i.e. movie theatres, place of worship, government building, schools) are required under the American with Disabilities Act to provide assistive listening devices for the hard-of-hearing.
  • Noise above 80-90 decibels on average over an 8-hour workday is considered hazardous. Professions at risk of hearing loss include firefighters, police officers, factory workers, farmers, construction workers, military personnel, heavy industry workers, musicians, and entertainment industry professionals.
  • One in four workers exposed to high levels of noise will develop a hearing loss.
  • A live rock concert produces sounds from 110 to 120 decibels—easily high enough to cause permanent damage to hearing over a two- to three-hour period. If you have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area or you hear ringing or buzzing in your ears immediately after exposure to noise consider this a warning sign that the sounds are TOO LOUD.
  • Do you hear, but not understand, what is being said?
  • Do you have trouble hearing the television and/or radio?
  • Do you feel that other people seem to mumble or talk too quickly?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing people talk when there is background
  • noise such as at a restaurant or a social gathering?
  • Do you find yourself watching the mouths of people as they talk?
  • Do you experience ringing, pain, or fullness in one or both ears?
  • Do you frequently ask people to repeat what they say?
  • Is anyone in your family hard of hearing or deaf?
  • Do you find it difficult to understand others over the telephone?
  • Do you tend to hear male voices more easily than female voices?
  • What are the differences between basic types of hearing aids?
  • What kind of hearing aids would be best for me?
  • How are hearing aids priced? Can you break down the cost?
  • What’s the return or trial period on the hearing aids I’m purchasing?
  • Are there service fees that won’t be refunded if I return the hearing aids?
  • What is covered in these fees, and how much can I expect to pay?
  • What kind of post-fitting and aural rehabilitation programs do you provide?
  • Can I expect to come back for minor alterations?
  • Do you provide a written contract or purchase agreement?
  • Is there a warranty? Who honors the warranty, you or the manufacturer?
  • Is there financing available for buying hearing aids?
  • Can I get insurance in case they’re lost or damaged?
  • What’s the average lifespan of this hearing aid?
  • What happens if my hearing aids stop working?
  • Do you repair them or does someone else? What will it cost?
  • Will I be provided with loaner hearing aids while mine are being repaired?
  • What happens if my hearing changes?
  • There are several factors you should consider when buying hearing aids. Here are some important topics to think about:

    Loss Characteristics: The nature and severity of your hearing loss will play a large role in determining which hearing aids are ultimately recommended to you. Your hearing professional can help you understand your unique loss characteristics, and explain the models that would best suit your needs.

    Lifestyle: Consider your life, work, free-time activities. What are the things you do that are most affected by hearing loss? What are the things, if any, that you’re not able to do because of a hearing loss? Define your needs and set priorities. Your job may also be a factor. If you work outdoors in the elements or travel frequently and are concerned about a hearing aid’s durability, you may want to consider a back-up aid.

    Not every technological advance benefits every hearing loss, and it’s safe to say that even basic hearing aids can deliver appropriate sound quality. Consult your hearing professional — he or she will help you assess the level of sophistication you need based on a range of issues.

    The smallest hearing aids are the most discreet, but they are, well, small. If your eyesight or dexterity are less than what they used to be, size may indeed matter. Alternatively, some new aids adjust automatically or via remote control. Your hearing professional will instruct you as to your best choices.

    Appearance: Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes, from tiny, completely-in-the-canal models to those that sit behind the ear. Many people are overly concerned about appearance, and it’s wise to remember that others will be far less aware of your aid than you. Most hearing aids are quite discreet. Keep in mind that hairstyle can also play a role.

    Physiology: Physical factors can also influence your selection of a hearing aid. The shape and size of the outer ear and ear canal can make it difficult for some people to wear particular styles. For example, if your canal is extremely narrow, in-the-canal aids may not work for you. Your hearing professional will help determine which hearing aid options are appropriate for you.

    One Ear or Two?
    Two ears are better than one. Binaural, or two-ear hearing, is what helps us determine where sounds are coming from, and to distinguish between competing sounds more easily. If you have a hearing loss in only one ear, you may be fine with one hearing aid. Age- and noise-related hearing loss tend to affect both ears, but your hearing profile for each ear is probably different. If there is a loss in both ears, then you will benefit more with a binaural approach. In addition, some of the benefits of digital technology require two hearing aids. Today, about two-thirds of new purchasers opt for dual hearing aids, and as a group, they report a higher level of satisfaction than purchasers of a single aid. Discuss the pros and cons with your hearing professional.
    The most common repairs required by hearing aids are based on dirt and debris blocking the microphones and the receivers. In other words, the majority of repairs required are due to poor maintenance. Your hearing healthcare professional will review with you how to maintain your hearing aids, how to keep them clean and dry, how to change batteries etc. Nonetheless, if the hearing aids are well maintained, generally speaking, they can last 5 to 7 years.
    People learn and adapt at different rates. Some people need a day or two to learn about and adjust to their hearing aids; most people need a few weeks, and others may need a few months.

    In general, wear your hearing aids for a few hours the first day and add an hour a day the following day, and the next, and the next, until you are wearing hearing aids most of the day. Start in a favorable listening environment (such as one-on-one conversations in quiet) and work towards more difficult listening situations. Let your friends and family know you’re using your new hearing aids.

    Please do NOT wear them to a cocktail party or restaurant during the first few weeks, thinking "this will be a good test!" It will absolutely not be a good test. You should not wear hearing aids in noise until you are very accustomed to them.
    You may have certain communication needs that cannot be solved by just using hearing aids. These situations may involve telephone, radio, television, or the inability to hear the door chime, telephone bell, and alarm clock. Special devices have been developed to solve these problems. Like hearing aids, assistive listening devices and alerting devices make sounds louder. Typically, a hearing aid makes all sounds in the environment louder. Assistive listening devices and alerting devices can increase the loudness of a desired sound, like a radio or television, a public speaker, or an alarm system, or may make an auditory alarm (such as a smoke signal) into a visual alarm (such as a strobe light).
    There are several types of hearing aids, with companies continuously inventing newer, improved hearing aids everyday. Each type offers different advantages, depending on its design, levels of amplification, and size. Here are the four basic styles of hearing aids available today:

    In-the-Ear (ITE)
    hearing aids fit completely in the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. The case, which holds the components, is made of hard plastic. ITE aids can accommodate added technical mechanisms such as a telecoil, a small magnetic coil contained in the hearing aid that improves sound transmission during telephone calls. ITE aids can be damaged by earwax and ear drainage, and their small size can cause adjustment problems and feedback. They are not usually worn by children because the casings need to be replaced as the ear grows.

    Behind-the-Ear (BTE)
    hearing aids are worn behind the ear and are connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The components are held in a case behind the ear. Sound travels through the earmold into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss. Poorly fitting BTE earmolds may cause feedback, a whistle sound caused by the fit of the hearing aid or by buildup of earwax or fluid.

    Canal Aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two sizes. The In-the-Canal (ITC) hearing aid is customized to fit the size and shape of the ear canal and is used for mild or moderately severe hearing loss. A Completely-in-Canal (CIC) hearing aid is largely concealed in the ear canal and is used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. Because of their small size, canal aids may be difficult for the user to adjust and remove, and may not be able to hold additional devices, such as a telecoil. Canal aids can also be damaged by earwax and ear drainage. They are not typically recommended for children.

    Body Aids
    are used by people with profound hearing loss. The aid is attached to a belt or a pocket and connected to the ear by a wire. Because of its large size, it is able to incorporate many signal processing options, but it is usually used only when other types of aids cannot be used.