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How Much Hearing Loss Before Hearing Aids

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Do You Need a Hearing Test Before Ordering Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are routinely offered and fitted for people with hearing loss. It might seem obvious that such an intervention is bound to be associated with an improvement in a patient’s ability to hear and to communicate, but is this true? If there is an improvement in a patient’s ability to hear and communicate, how big an improvement is it? There is little highlevel evidence to answer these questions and to inform discussions around the effectiveness of hearing aids, their provision within a population and the approach to be taken by those who might fund such provision.

The present review does not compare the evidence for the bilateral versus unilateral fitting of hearing aids, for which there is an ongoing Cochrane Review .

What If I Don’t Want To Have A Medical Examination

The FDA believes that, in some instances, it could be in your best health interest to have a medical examination by a licensed physicianpreferably one that specializes in ear diseasesbefore buying hearing aids. However, for consumers 18 years of age and older, the FDA does not intend to enforce the requirement for a medical examination prior to purchasing certain types of hearing aids. For hearing aid consumers younger than 18 years of age, the FDA will continue to enforce the medical evaluation requirement to rule out medical causes of hearing loss prior to buying hearing aids.

What Level Of Hearing Loss Requires A Hearing Aid

If you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss, you may wonder whether a hearing aid is in your future. Your audiologist, or hearing specialist, will diagnose your level of hearing loss with an audiogram, a test used to identify the quietest sounds you can hear, measured in decibels. Your hearing specialist may also assess how easily you hear words against background noise, Dave Fabry, AuD, chief innovation officer at Starkey Hearing Technologies in Eden Prairie, Minn., tells WebMD Connect to Care. The level of hearing loss you experience will determine whether a hearing aid is necessary.

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So Why Do We Call It Legally Deaf

We often hear people talk about whether someone is legally deaf or not, even though that phrase in and of itself can be fantastically nebulous. What qualifies as a legal hearing disability can change depending on the specific law its referencing.

For example:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act qualifies any kind of hearing loss as a disability if it limits your participation in life events or if an employer perceives it as possibly limiting your participation. Meeting this requirement under the ADA entitles you to certain rights and protections under the law.
  • The Social Security Administration office of disabilities requires that certain medical thresholds are met before they allow individuals access to disability benefits. If your hearing sensitivity is less than 90 dB or you fail to repeat 40% of words in a word recognition test, you may be able to qualify for disability benefits under the SSA. Why do we say may?

Whether you are legally entitled to disability benefits or protections will change depending on what law youre measuring your hearing loss against .

The Smallest Hearing Aid For People With Severe

Hearing loss still a challenge for kids

ReSound ENZO Q is the smallest hearing aid available for people with severe-to-profound hearing loss. It comes in two behind-the-ear styles and a wide range of colors. Every component is coated with iSolate nanotech, an ultra-thin shield that seals it off from water, dust, and ear wax. It offers exceptional battery life and long durability – our 98 model battery, for example, lasts for 12 days when streaming up to four hours per day.

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When Should Hearing Be Checked

Its best to catch hearing problems early, because treatment is more successful if it starts before a child is 6 months old. Thats why every newborn has a hearing screening test before leaving the hospital.

If your baby doesnât have a screening before going home, or was born at home or a birthing center, get their hearing checked within the first 3 weeks of life. Not passing a hearing screening doesnt mean a baby has hearing loss, but it does mean that the baby should be retested within 3 months. If hearing loss is found then, treatment should begin right away.

Kids should continue to have their hearing checked at their regular checkups. Hearing screening tests usually are done at:

  • ages 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 years
  • the preteen years
  • the teen years

The doctor will also check hearing any other time thereâs a concern. Tell your childs doctor if you are concerned about a hearing problem.

What Makes A Good Hearing Aid For Mild Hearing Loss

This is going to depend heavily on the person with hearing loss depending on what situations they struggle with the most.

The number 1 thing a hearing aid well suited for a mild hearing loss must do is provide crisp and clear speech understanding in background noise, while maintaining a natural sound quality.

Acceptance of the hearing aid is extremely important for people with mild hearing loss who are wearing hearing aids for the first time. The biggest challenge with fitting a hearing aid for mild hearing loss is overcoming the lack of perceived benefit of the wearer. Because the person with mild hearing loss may not perceive tremendous difficulty hearing without their hearing aids, they also may not perceive the tremendous benefits they get from wearing them.

In order to avoid unacceptable hearing aids, or lack of consistency with wearing them, this is something that should be explained by the hearing healthcare professional.

There is not as big of a wow factor for someone with mild hearing loss who puts on hearing aids for the first time because in the quiet doctors office they probably heard fine without them.

It is the challenging listening environments where the benefits of hearing aids will be noticed, as well as the underlying benefits like less listening fatigue, less social withdrawal or frustration, and more health benefits from wearing the hearing aids.

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Do I Need One Or Two Hearing Aids

If hearing loss exists in both ears, there is greater benefit in using a device in each ear similar to wearing eyeglasses with two lenses. There are always exceptions to the general rule and that will be discussed with your audiologist. Benefits from hearing aids in each ear include:

  • Improved ability to understand speech in background noise
  • Less amplification in each hearing aid reducing the possibility of feedback
  • Less auditory effort so you are less fatigued at the end of the day
  • Improved ability to locate the source of sound

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/01/2019.


  • Hearing Loss Association of America. How Can I Tell If I Have a Hearing Loss? Accessed 9/2/2018.
  • National Institutes on Health. NIH Fact Sheet: Hearing Aids. Accessed 7/1/2020.
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Assistive Devices for People with Hearing, Voice, Speech or Language Disorders. Accessed 9/2/2018.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

What Does It Mean To Have A Mild Hearing Loss

How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?

You may have heard friends and family members describe their hearing loss in percentagesI have a 20% hearing loss or I have a 50% hearing loss. These percentage descriptions originated from formulas used by the military, Veterans Administration, and workmans compensation organizations to describe the amount of disability caused by a certain degree of hearing loss. If your hearing loss resulted from an accident on the job, there is a formula that is used to calculate the percent disability pension for which you may be eligible. This is not your hearing loss expressed as a percentage. Rather, this formula calculates how much your degree of hearing loss supposedly impacts your ability to remain employed at full wages.

Audiologists and ear nose and throat physicians describe hearing loss on a graph with pitches along the top and volume levels along the side. Most people hear some pitches better than others, making the concept of a percentage of hearing loss less useful for them.

Degrees of hearing loss

When someone is professionally diagnosed with hearing loss, typically theyre told how significant the hearing loss is. The degree of hearing loss can range from mild to profound, but the question for most people is, What does that mean for me?

Below is a brief explanation of the degrees of hearing loss. Generally, the more severe the hearing loss, the harder it is for the person to hear.


Mild is the most common and under-diagnosed degree of hearing loss.

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How Does Mild Hearing Loss Affect Communication

People with mild hearing loss often say they hear well in quiet environments when talking one-on-one with someone however, not so well when they are in noisy environments, nor when a person is facing away or is standing some distance away from them, according to audiologist Dr. Melissa Danchak, AuD, of Kos/Danchak Audiology and Hearing Aids in Arlington, Texas.

People with mild hearing loss often report that they can hear but can’t understand conversations clearly.

Devices To Help With Hearing Loss

Your doctor or specialist may suggest you get a hearing aid. Hearing aids are electronic, battery-run devices that make sounds louder. There are many types of hearing aids. Before buying a hearing aid, find out if your health insurance will cover the cost. Also, ask if you can have a trial period so you can make sure the device is right for you. An audiologist or hearing aid specialist will show you how to use your hearing aid.

Assistive-listening devices, mobile apps, alerting devices, and cochlear implants can help some people with hearing loss. Cochlear implants are electronic devices for people with severe hearing loss. They dont work for all types of hearing loss. Alert systems can work with doorbells, smoke detectors, and alarm clocks to send you visual signals or vibrations. For example, a flashing light can let you know someone is at the door or the phone is ringing. Some people rely on the vibration setting on their cell phones to alert them to calls.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are a new category of regulated hearing devices that adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss will be able to buy without a prescription. OTC hearing aids will make certain sounds louder to help people with hearing loss listen, communicate, and take part more fully in daily activities. OTC hearing aids are expected to become available in stores and online in the next few years.

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Brand Purchased Vs Us Market Share

Our results are more or less in line with previous research from Bernstein Research . According to Bernstein, Sonova, which manufactures Phonak and Unitron, had 30% market share in 2015. In our survey, Phonak and Unitron owners made up 26.7% of the sample. William Demant, which manufactures Oticon, Bernafon, and Sonic, had 21% market share in 2015. In our survey, Oticon, Bernafon, and Sonic owners made up 19.7% of the sample.

What Are The Different Types Of Hearing Aids

Susie Elelman: My hearing aids are a huge health win ...

The type of hearing aid recommended for the individual depends on the person’s home and work activities, his or her physical limitations and medical condition, and personal preference. There are many different types of hearing aids on the market, with companies continuously inventing newer, improved hearing aids every day. However, there are 4 basic types of hearing aids available today. Consult your health care provider for additional information on each of the following types:

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Help With Hearing Aid Costs

If a persons healthcare insurance does not cover the cost of a hearing aid, they can consider other options to help with these expenses.

Most hearing aid manufacturers offer finance plans. These are often flexible and allow people to pay for their hearing aid over time. Typically, these payment plans run over 1260 months.

An individual can speak with their audiology specialist regarding finance options. Some companies may offer a payment plan with very low or no interest.

The Hearing Industries Association offers a helpful guide to finance options for hearing aids. Some of the companies that can assist include:

Causes Of Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is usually caused by a blockage, such as having too much ear wax, a build-up of fluid in the ear , or an ear infection.

Conductive hearing loss can also be caused by:

  • a perforated eardrum where the eardrum is torn or has a hole in it
  • otosclerosis an abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear that causes the inner hearing bone to be less mobile and less effective at transmitting sound
  • damage to the hearing bones from injury, a collapsed ear drum or conditions such as cholesteatoma
  • swelling around the eustachian tube caused by jaw surgery or radiotherapy for nasal and sinus cancer
  • malformation of the ear
  • Eustachian tube dysfunction
  • something becoming trapped in the ear

Conductive hearing loss is usually temporary and can often be treated with medication or minor surgery.

Read more about treating hearing loss

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Tips: How To Talk With Someone With Hearing Loss

Here are some tips you can use when talking with someone who has a hearing problem:

  • In a group, include people with hearing loss in the conversation.
  • Find a quiet place to talk to help reduce background noise, especially in restaurants and at social gatherings.
  • Stand in good lighting and use facial expressions or gestures to give clues.
  • Face the person and speak clearly. Maintain eye contact.
  • Speak a little more loudly than normal, but dont shout. Try to speak slowly, but naturally.
  • Speak at a reasonable speed.
  • Do not hide your mouth, eat, or chew gum while speaking.
  • Repeat yourself if necessary, using different words.
  • Try to make sure only one person talks at a time.
  • Be patient. Stay positive and relaxed.
  • Ask how you can help.

Types Of Hearing Loss

Hearing Aids at Veterans Affairs | How to Start the Process | Hearing Loss | theSITREP

While there are many types of hearing losses, two are most common: high frequency and flat losses.

High-frequency hearing losses are the most common. Nerves in the cochlea called hair cells become atrophied with age or damaged by exposure to loud noise. Symptoms include being able to hear but failing to understand speech. Background noise is becoming a problem. Although research is ongoing, regeneration of damaged hair cells is not presently possible in humans.

Flat losses are common as well and are caused by problems with the transmission or conduction of sound from the eardrum into the cochlea. Many times the ossicles, which are the three tiny bones in the middle ear, become hardened or calcified. This inhibits the movement of the bones, which in turn reduces the volume of all sounds heard. Flat losses are more common in females than males. Symptoms include a gradual decrease in the volume of common sounds or being unable to hear at a distance. Medical procedures exist to correct conductive hearing loss, but be aware that they come with the risk of damaging your hearing.

Determining the Amount of Hearing Loss

In addition to identifying one’s type of hearing loss, it’s beneficial to identify the amount of hearing loss one is experiencing. Hearing loss can range from ‘noticeable’ to ‘profound,’ and identifying which one sounds most like you will help to determine what hearing aid will benefit you the most.

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Price By Professional Type

The per-unit hearing aid prices reported were about $500 higher when a hearing aid was fitted by an audiologist versus a hearing instrument specialist . On the surface this makes sense audiologists have a more in-depth education in the science of hearing and hearing loss, invest more in their education, and command a higher salary .

Average price paid per hearing aid, by professional type

Who fitted your hearing aid? Average price paid
A hearing instrument specialist $1,944 per device 337

However, looking deeper into the data we found many hearing instrument specialists seem to charge the same amount as audiologists when the setting is the same. The lower prices seem largely driven by the higher proportion of hearing instrument specialists in the Costco setting as reported by survey respondents. Our survey placed 40% of hearing instrument specialists at Costco vs 4% of audiologists.

Audiologists were much more likely to fit hearing aids at the local clinic level, including ENT, hospital, and university clinics. Consumers who were fitted at a name brand store had about a 50/50 chance of being fitted by an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist, and consumers who were fitted at Costco were more than twice as likely to be fitted by a hearing instrument specialist.

Note: In the chart below, we only included categories with at least 100 responses.

What To Consider When Choosing A Hearing Aid For Profound Hearing Loss

Here are some of the things that you might want to consider if you are thinking about getting a hearing aid for profound hearing loss:

  • Feedback control: Excessive feedback can be unpleasant and painful. Look for devices that offer robust feedback control systems from reputable manufacturers.
  • Telecoil: A telecoil is a feature on the hearing aid that allows you to use your assistive hearing device as an in-ear speaker, bypassing the need to use the microphone. Many phones, televisions, and public spaces can pipe sounds digitally to your hearing aid, eliminating the risk of feedback.
  • Multi-microphone support: Some hearing aids have multiple microphones that help you tell which direction a sound is coming from. These microphones pick up and translate sounds at different times, providing directionality, similar to the directional hearing that people have naturally.

Do you believe that you might need power hearing aids to treat profound hearing loss? Would you like help in selecting the right device for you?

If so, then you can learn more from the Salyer Hearing Center. Call us in Sylva at 828-586-7474, Franklin at 828-524-5599, Murphy at 828-835-1014.

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