A hearing aid is a device that makes sound louder. Hearing aids have a:
A hearing aid works only if you have some hearing, not if you're completely deaf. A hearing aid can’t make your hearing perfect, but it may help you communicate better.
There are different types of hearing aids. Some hearing aids amplify all sounds. Others have a computer processor that amplifies certain sound pitches more than others. Hearing aids come in different sizes:
A hearing aid specialist can help you select the type of hearing aid that works best for you. If one kind of hearing aid doesn’t work well for you, ask your doctor about trying a different kind.
Phones can be hard to use with hearing aids. Some hearing aids have a special feature that makes it easier to hear when using the phone.
The cochlea is a tiny organ deep inside each of your ears. It turns sound waves that come into your ears into nerve signals to send to your brain. Those nerve signals are what you actually "hear."
Sometimes, hearing loss happens because sound waves can't get through the middle part of your ear to the cochlea. In this case, it doesn't help much to just make sound louder, the way a hearing aid does. Instead, doctors may give you a cochlear implant.
A cochlear implant:
A doctor does surgery to implant the wires into your cochlea.
A cochlear implant has two parts: a microphone and sound processor that you wear behind your ear, and an implant placed under the skin that has the wires going into your cochlea.
You may need a cochlear implant if you can’t understand more than half the words in a sentence, even with a hearing aid. Cochlear implants work best if your hearing loss is recent or you used a hearing aid successfully before the implant.
A cochlear implant doesn't help you hear perfectly, but it may:
Your brain stem is the bottom part of your brain. It has many functions, including processing hearing. If the sound-transmitting nerves in your ear are damaged, then hearing aids and cochlear implants can't help much.
But if your brain stem is okay, then doctors may do a brain stem implant. This is the same idea as a cochlear implant.
A brain stem implant has:
A doctor does surgery to implant the wires into your brain stem. The signals aren't as good as regular hearing, but they can help you detect sounds.
Certain devices and technology may help, including:
Other strategies can include:
Learning and using sign language
Learning to read lips
Asking people to face you when they’re speaking to you
Choosing to avoid or change situations that may make it harder for you to understand other people, such as visiting restaurants during off-peak hours and asking for a booth or a quieter location