Can Hearing Aids Improve Your Hearing?

October 12, 2018

If you are new to wearing hearing aids in Waterloo, IA, you might be wondering whether these types of hearing assistance devices actually work. Can hearing aids actually improve your ability to hear? This depends on a few factors, particularly the type of hearing loss you have. The following is a breakdown of the two main types of hearing loss, including their causes, symptoms and treatments.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Of all the different types of hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss is the most common. Unfortunately, it’s permanent. It occurs when the auditory nerve or the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear is damaged, thus preventing or weakening the transfer of nerve signals to the brain. When these nerve signals are blocked, they cannot carry information related to the loudness and clarity of any sounds:

  • Causes: Being born with sensorineural hearing loss is the result either of infection while inside the womb or a genetic syndrome. Developed later in life can be the result of a host of triggers, including autoimmune disease, blood vessel disease, traumatic injury, exposure to extreme noise and various types of infections.
  • Symptoms: The symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss affect both the loudness and clarity of sounds, and include noises seeming too loud or too quiet, consistent tinnitus, difficulty following conversations in groups, feeling dizzy or off balance or feeling like other people’s speech sounds mumbled or slurred.
  • Treatments: A damaged auditory nerve or tiny hair-like cells cannot be repaired, but this type of hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids. A cochlear implant is an option for some people.

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is a less common type of hearing loss that occurs when the outer or middle ear is damaged or there’s an obstruction. Sound is prevented from being conducted to the inner ear. It may be permanent or temporary, depending on the cause:

  • Causes: The outer ear may have wax impaction, stenosis, foreign body obstructions, swimmer’s ear or bone spurs. Middle ear damage can be caused by a buildup of fluid, abnormal growths or tumors, injury or trauma, ear infections and more.
  • Symptoms: With conductive hearing loss, the sensitive inner ear and auditory nerve are intact, meaning the main hearing difficulty is with the overall loudness of sounds, not the clarity. A person may have to turn up the volume on the TV, have pain in one or both ears, find it easier to hear out of one ear than the other, feel their own voice is loud and have difficulty hearing over the phone.
  • Treatments: While surgery is an option for some individuals with conductive hearing loss, others are best treated with traditional hearing aid devices. Find out from your doctor the cause of your hearing loss before deciding on a treatment option.

Hearing loss can happen during any stage of life. Reach out for assistance if you’re having a hard time hearing. Whether you need a hearing test, hearing aid fitting or device maintenance and repairs, trust the team at Potter’s Hearing Aid Service to help. Call today for information about the different types of hearing aids in Waterloo, IA!

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