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Do hearing aids work for all hearing problems?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

The thing you should know about hearing aids: They can be imprecise and expensive, and may not work for all hearing problems. Or they can be less expensive and work perfectly for you. If all the sound you hear is garbled and garbage, a hearing aid will just give you louder garbage. Go to an aid place that lets you return the device within six months if it doesn't work for you. Many say that it takes three months to get used to a hearing aid. So if the first device doesn't work, it's worth trying another brand or solution.

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If you are diagnosed with hearing loss, a hearing aid might help you to be an active participant in life. Hearing aids can help those with mild to severe hearing loss. While a hearing aid cannot fill in the gap for the hearing loss, it can help magnify what you can hear and improve your quality of life.

With a hearing aid, you are in control. You can change the volume and turn it off and on as you please. The style of today’s hearing aid blends in on most people, whether it is in the ear (ITE), in the canal (ITC), behind the ear (BTE) or part of your eyewear.

The in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid fits the size and shape of your ear, so it is virtually hidden. A modified version of this is a completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid. The in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid fits directly into the outer ear. Typically, the behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid is inside of a small curved case that fits behind your ear. Because BTE hearing aids are more powerful, they may be better for people with severe hearing loss.

Hearing aids are effective for hearing loss if people understand what they're capable of doing. Sometimes people say, "Well, hearing aids don't work." In a quiet environment or a relatively quiet environment, when people are standing closer to the person that they're talking to and not trying to talk to somebody from the next room, hearing aids work very, very well. Sometimes the difficulty is with the person being spoken to or with. An individual who speaks very rapidly or who speaks with an accent will be more difficult to understand. If people say a whole lot of sentences very, very quickly, others would have a hard time understanding what they're saying. In that kind of situation the speaker should be advised to slow down a little bit so that he or she can be heard more clearly.

Speech is comprehended in the brain, so to understand speech it's also important for the listener to focus attention, to not be distracted by other things in the environment, to not be thinking about something else, but really focus on the person speaking. Hearing aids can't do that. Only the brain can do that.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.