December 01, 2019

Hearing aid hesitations

What's holding you back?

You've been looking forward to your grandkids' visit for weeks. Sitting at the dinner table, you're excited to hear updates about their lives and activities.

However, when the time comes, it's so difficult to understand what they're saying. The effort of straining to hear is exhausting, and your adult children are frustrated when they have to keep repeating themselves.

Maybe you don't have a hearing aid, or maybe you have one but don't use it. That's often the case. According to estimates of American adults age 50 and older with hearing loss, only 14% use a hearing aid.

Hearing loss is more than missing out on dinner conversations. An inability to communicate can make your life more lonely, confusing and frightening. So what's holding you back from using hearing aids?

Hear today, gone tomorrow

Tiny hair cells (cilia) are located in a part of the inner ear called the cochlea. With normal hearing, these hair cells change sound vibrations into electrical signals, which are processed by the brain and perceived as sound.

Age and exposure to loud sounds are key factors that can take a toll on hair cells. The hair cells may be damaged and some may die, which means electrical signals aren't transmitted as efficiently, and some sounds are filtered out. Hearing loss due to inner ear damage is known as sensorineural (sen-suh-ree-NOOR-ul) hearing loss. Typically, this damage is permanent.

Hearing aids make sounds loud enough for you to hear. Hearing aids use small microphones to pick up sounds, then amplify the sound through a speaker....