WHAT TREATMENTS AND DEVICES CAN HELP?
Your treatment will depend on your specific hearing problem, so some treatments will work better for you than others. Here are the most common ones:
Hearing aids are tiny instruments you wear in or behind your ear. They make sounds louder. Things sound different when you wear a hearing aid, but your hearing healthcare professional can help you get used to it.
To find the hearing aid that works best for you, you may have to try more than one. Ask your hearing healthcare professional whether you can have a trial period with a few different hearing aids.
Remember that it may take weeks—and multiple trips to your hearing healthcare professional for fitting adjustments—before you are used to your new hearing aid. Don’t give up! An adjustment period is normal, and you WILL see an improvement. Don’t hesitate to go back to your hearing healthcare professional if you don’t think the hearing aid is working as it should or if it is uncomfortable. They want the hearing aid to benefit you and not sit in a drawer.
Personal listening systems help you hear what you want to hear while eliminating or lowering other noises around you. Some, called auditory training systems and loop systems, make it easier for you to hear someone in a crowded room or group setting. Others, such as FM systems and personal amplifiers, are better for one-on-one conversations. FM systems are often used in schools for children with hearing loss.
TV listening systems help you listen to the television or the radio without being bothered by other noises around you. These systems can be used with or without hearing aids and do not require you to use a very high volume.
Direct audio input hearing aids are hearing aids that can be plugged into TVs, stereos, microphones, auditory trainers, and personal FM systems to help you hear better.
Telephone amplifying devices. Some telephones are made to work with certain hearing aids. If your hearing aid has a "T" switch, you can ask your telephone company about getting a phone with an amplifying coil (T-coil). If your telephone is in the "T" position, this coil is activated when you pick up the phone. It allows you to listen at a comfortable volume and helps lessen background noise. You can also buy a special type of telephone receiver and other devices to make sounds louder on the phone.
Captioned telephones allow you to have your telephone calls captioned. There are companies that provide this over the internet or through special phones, which may be provided to you free of charge, depending on which state you live in.
Mobile phone amplifying devices. To help people who use a T-coil hear better on mobile phones, an amplifying device called a loopset is available. The wire loop goes around your neck and connects to the mobile phone. The loop transmits speech from the phone to the hearing aid in your ear. It also helps get rid of background noise to make it easier to talk in a noisy environment.
Auditorium-type assistive listening systems. Many auditoriums, movie theaters, churches, synagogues, and other public places are equipped with special sound systems for people with hearing loss. These systems send sounds directly to your ears to help you hear better. Some can be used with a hearing aid and others without.
Cochlear (COKE-lee-ur) implants have three parts: a headpiece, a speech processor, and a receiver. The headpiece includes a microphone and a transmitter. It is worn just behind the ear where it picks up sound and sends it to the speech processor, a beeper-sized device that can fit in your pocket or on a belt. The speech processor converts the sound into a special signal that is sent to the receiver. The receiver, a small round disc about the size of a quarter that a surgeon places under the skin behind one ear, sends a sound signal to the brain. Cochlear implants are most often used with young children born with hearing loss. However, older adults with profound or severe hearing loss are beginning to receive these implants more often and with better results.
Lip reading or speech reading is another option. People who do this pay close attention to others when they talk. They watch how the mouth and the body move when someone is talking. Special trainers can help you learn how to lip read or speech read.
Sign language. Many choose to learn sign language to communicate with others who use this form of communication.