Ask An Audiologist: I have hearing loss due to aging. Do I need a hearing aid?

The most common cause of age-related hearing loss is due to the degeneration of sensory cells, which occurs as we age. Most people ask, "Do I really need a hearing aid?" This is often followed by “Which type of hearing aid is suitable for me?”

Alyssa pursued her degree in Malaysia and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science (Audiology) in 2016. As an audiologist, she is passionate to promote hearing awareness to the public and to help more hearing-impaired people. Prior to working with Signia, Alyssa worked at a private clinic where she specialized in comprehensive audiological assessment, hearing aid fitting and audiological rehabilitation.

When promoting hearing awareness to public, a question that frequently comes up is:

“I have hearing loss due to aging. Do I need a hearing aid?”

Age-related hearing loss is the gradual loss of hearing as we grow older and it is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults and the elderly. Based on the World Health Organization (WHO) prevalence estimation, there are approximately one-third of persons over 65 years affected by disabling hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss often occurs in both ears, affecting them equally. The most common cause of age-related hearing loss is due to the degeneration of sensory cells, which occurs as we age.

Many people find it hard to come to terms with the idea of wearing hearing aids. They put off the decision and only do something about it when the problems associated with poor hearing simply become too much for them.

Still, the earlier you do something about hearing loss, the better. Even when hearing is just starting to deteriorate, hearing aids help to maintain neural pathways in your brain responsible for hearing all the sounds around you. The longer you put off hearing aids, the harder it will be for you to get used to them when you do finally wear them, and more importantly, the more you’ll miss out in life.

This is often followed by the question: “Which type of hearing aid is suitable for me?”

If you have hearing loss due to the degeneration of sensory cells, the process is irreversible. However, you can benefit from wearing hearing aids or other communication devices. A hearing aid is a small wearable electronic device that amplifies the sound based on your hearing loss, so that you can listen, communicate and participate more fully in the daily activities!

There are three most commonly seen types of hearing aids in the market: Behind-the-ear (BTE), Receiver-in-canal (RIC), and custom-made hearing aids. In general, BTE hearing aids are the biggest in size and the most powerful in performance, followed by RIC and lastly custom-made hearing aids.

The type of hearing aids that is suitable for you depends on:

  • Your hearing loss profile,
  • the anatomy of your ears,
  • as well as on your personal lifestyle and preferences.

It’s all about finding the right one.

In my previous working setting, I met a patient in his early 30s who suffered from early onset hearing loss. He couldn’t hear well in his daily meetings resulting in his work performance being greatly affected. Prior to visiting a Hearing Care Professional, he researched the types of hearing aid and was only keen with the smallest custom hearing aid (Completely-In-Ear model, CIC) for its discreetness.

However, upon evaluating his hearing profile, daily lifestyle and expectations, I quickly realized that he was more suitable to wear a Receiver-In-Canal (RIC). I am always more than happy to explain the differences, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different models. I encouraged him to have a short trial during his consultation to experience how each model feels and the different benefits they bring. After the trial, he agreed that he felt more benefits while wearing the RIC instrument.

From the subsequent post-fitting audiological rehabilitation, the user shared that he was satisfied with his RIC hearing aids and they have helped him a lot in his work environment.

This is why you should always arrange a hearing assessment and consultation with your local hearing care professional prior to getting a hearing aid. If you feel that you are having problems with your hearing and would like to find out more, you can use our handy Store Locator to find your nearest hearing care professional!

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