Do hearing aids help mild hearing loss? My audiologist claims that they do not


I am new here! I recently had my first hearing test. I have a family history of progressive hearing loss that begins in the late teens and early 20s and I started to notice that I couldn’t understand some of my professors (I am a university student studying archaeology and french) and without the subtitles on the television my roommates complained it was too loud. I can understand most people one on one in quiet setting no problem. It’s really only background noise, lecture theatres, people who mumble and television that I have problems with.
My test came back with mild hearing loss that my audiologist assured me was from sound exposure, not genetics (not sure about that, I’ve never been to a concert or shot a gun in my life, and I keep the volume down on my iPod because I like to hear the world around me). She said that hearing aids really don’t help hearing loss as mild as mine, and that there wasn’t anything she could do for me but advise me to sit in the front of my class. She refused to even let me try them as “the benefits simply won’t outweigh the costs”.

Does anyone have any experience with hearing aids for mild losses or other strategies to compensate?

I’m feeling rather frustrated and confused. Thanks very much for your opinions and advice.

Yes, hearing aids can help people with mild hearing loss. Find another audiologist who will let you try a pair. With your particular loss, the hearing aids will be programmed to give you amplification in the high frequencies, which will make speech sounds clearer and easier to understand.

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I agree. See my numbers below. Life is so much better with these. Just took a class recently and it was a lot less fatiguing to not be straining to hear what was going on and misunderstanding what I could hear. It’s those important vowels that make a big difference. When the waiter asks if you want the “fish” and all you hear is “ih”

Definitely see a different audiologist and try hearing aids. Your life will improve.

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Fire your audiologist: She is incompetent. Also, ask for an FM assistive system from the student services at your university, as that will make life much easier, as you will see in this video as the benefits are clearly demonstrated:


Where are you located?

Yours truly,
Dan Schwartz
Editor, The Hearing Blog

Wow, that is some difference. I would be happy if I could even just get my profs to face me when they speak, that would be a great start. I don’t think I can ask for even that without registering for disability services though, and my current audiologist wont fill out the paperwork, as according to her, as long as I sit in the front, I will be fine.

I’m in Alberta, Canada. I think the student is required to provide his or her own FM system here (my sister is hard of hearing) but there is funding available for students through AADL (Alberta Aids to Daily Living), but I am not sure if you must have a certain amount of hearing loss or poor speech discrimination or not to qualify for it. I actually kind of wonder if that is why the audiologist wouldn’t fit me, because hearing aids for students are paid for mostly by AADL with the student paying only 25% of the cost of hearing aids or $500, which ever is less.

When looking for a new audiologist, should I just call and say “Do you fit hearing aids on mild losses?” ? Will I need to pay for the hearing test again, or will they use the audiogram from the not so great audiologist?

Thank-you all very much for help.

Ohhh, you’re in Canada – Contact Canadian Hard-of-Hearing Association for assistance. But Yes, you need help; and your audiologist is derelict in her duty.

Feel free to contact me at Dan@Snip.Net for other tips.

A bit harsh there. I fully accept that there is a need for the OP to wear aids to get the most benefit in an academic environment, but you don’t know if there’s a local convention that says, don’t fit until x amount of the loss is below 30dB, as would be the case in the NHS here.

FM systems are likely to be a good option, but I’d opt for the portability of a personal remote mic system if it was practical.

You can keep your British NHS healthcare rationing system, thank you: If they do such a good job dispensing free hearing aids, then there would be no need for the hundreds of private audiologists & hearing aid dispensers at SpecSavers, Boots, Costco, Amplifon, and so on.

In any event, I wrote “Frustration with so-called “minimal” hearing loss” over two years ago to address this lady’s exact problem. Since that article was written, longtime audiology supplier and hearing aid circuit designer Etymotic Research has released the BEAN Quiet Sound Amplifier, which is a real hearing aid based on their K-AMP circuit and sold by Dr Killion as a PSAP.

When you say “personal remote mic system” that is what is known on this side of the Atlantic as a “PockeTalker” and they are Not Suitable for a classroom environment (for environments that don’t meet ANSI/ASA S12.60-2009 classroom acoustics standards for reverberation) due to the student sitting multiples of D© – They are suited for one-on-one use in “interview mode.”

I’d take a spell off the caffeine if I were you.

I work in the private sector in the UK: if you read my full post I was just pointing out that there could be a local convention about the degree of loss that applied, but I thought that the loss required aiding.

The last time I spoke with Dr Killion, he was comparing the relative merits of various hearing aid manufacturers’ products, before that the firm I worked used to sell the D-mic capsule and K-Amp circuit to other manufacturers. His ‘Holy Grail’ isn’t the same as everybody else within the industry, but it is entirely laudable.

Personal remote mic systems in my book are something like the Connectline remote mic that works with the Oticon streamer and the appropriate hearing aids. Other manufacturers produce similar systems. The reason for suggesting this over a conventional FM system is the portability and flexibility of this mechanism which would work for tutor groups and practical situations rather than just traditional lectures.

On this: I don’t know what your particular issue is with a system that’s delivered on the basis of clinical need rather than on the basis of those who have the deepest pockets, where people get treated via general national insurance contribution EVEN IF they have a chronic disease which needs significant ongoing treatment.

I’d have a look at this article: 5 Things I Didn't Know About Health Care (Until I Got Sick) | …paying particular attention to the ‘Just-World Hypothesis’ - which basically tells you that a lot of us believe that people who are sick/disabled, deserve to be like this, rather than being victims of bad luck. I live within a system that promotes an egalitarian approach to healthcare; that is all. I don’t suggest it’s perfect or that it’s even desirable for all eventualities, but there’s a degree of sense to the approach if it delivers better quality healthcare for the masses at a much cheaper rate than private insurance based systems.

In the UK there’s also a thriving private medicine business for those who would like the choice to opt out of the system too. Unfortunately there’s also a very right-wing press that likes to find issues within the NHS and exploit them for political capital.

BUT, lets’s not divert the thread away from its original question.

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Ahh, you mean something like the ReSound (& Cochlear) Mini Mic, which is a direct replacement for FM: I’ve made it mandatory on all of my hearing aid fittings since it came out in September 2012, and I have yet to have any returns since then. That being said, it still requires hearing aids.

Dan Schwartz,
Editor, The Hearing Blog
E-mail: Dan@Snip.Net
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Well you do get on your high horse before reading things don’t you!

Um bongo, if I were in the NHS, how much of my loss would have to be over 30dB? Would I qualify there? I can’t find any information about how bad the loss needs to be for AADL to pay, but I imagine that there is probably some standard like that as the audiologist would be required to submit my audiogram to them. I think that the audiologist might have forgot the word province in her original statement as to why I couldn’t try hearing aids “The cost to the province of providing you with hearing aids, doesn’t outweigh the benefits to the province”.

While it is true that free public health care isn’t perfect, I am certainly glad to have what we have, and I wish they would fund more. AADL only funds hearing aids for student & children under 25, seniors over 65, and low income people. But then everyone enjoys free doctors visits and hospital stays if required; though if you need surgery for a non life threatening condition, you could end up waiting months to years for it. My mum is from Scotland and grew up with the NHS system and I remember her having some pretty severe sticker shock the first time she had to buy us kids glasses. Needles to say, every year after that we got new ones on summer trips when visiting our grandparents in Aberdeen.

I could pay for hearing aids privately if I found an audiologist willing to let me try them, but I just can’t afford that, as it is my understanding that paying for them myself would cost me $2000-$7500… I’m a student… I don’t have that kind of disposable income.
Thank-you all very much for being so helpful and supportive.

As far as a mld loss goes, my ENT said I could wait another year or 2 until they got worse. The Audi said I was a candidate. Another Audi confirmed that I would benefit. So glad I got them. It was such a struggle before!

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Your audiologist is an idiot. Oops, I didn’t say that because I are one. The way that some of us are trained, is that we can tend to be too caught up in the numbers instead of taking care of the people. There is a huge difference between a hearing loss and a hearing problem. Perhaps you may wish to consider if your needs are best addressed by someone who knows the difference.

Fortunately in my case the ENT said if I was having a problem I could ask the Audi what she thought. She explained I was missing important vowels. While I was able to compensate a lot of the time by filing in the blanks based on the context if the word, it was exhausting. She recommended the aids if I had a problem. Decided on another Audi who has been wonderful and held my hand analyzing my unique needs in work and social settings
In a class I put my aids into party mode to minimize background noise and wear my phone clip. If the instructor turns away and goes into a soft talking mode I adjust the volume as needed.

You probably would fall short of the NHS criteria here, but that assumes all local care trusts operate the same kind of criteria, which isn’t always the case. Whichever way, as others have said, aids can clearly be beneficial, so I’d give them a go to find out what kind of improvements you can expect.

Best of luck with the process!


I don’t know where you are in Alberta, but I live just outside of Edmonton, and I can definitely say that in Alberta, your hearing loss doesn’t need to be at a certain level before audiologists or hearing aid practitioners are allowed to dispense a hearing aid. From what I understand, the “standard” loss for which most audiologists/hearing aid practitioners in Alberta begin recommending hearing aids is at 30 dB or higher. That said, I know they can and will prescribe for losses in the 20-30 range because I know of one person with a very mild loss who purchased her hearing aids at a location in Edmonton within the last year or so. My audiologist doesn’t feel that my good ear would benefit greatly from wearing a hearing aid, but even at that, she’d be more than willing to let me try one out. So it’s up to you. If you think a hearing aid or aids would help, then you should ask.

I have a wonderful audiologist in Edmonton. She belongs to a group of audiologists who come fairly highly recommended. Two of the practitioners in that office, including the one I see, are hard of hearing and wear bilateral hearing aids themselves. If you’re in Edmonton and are interested in knowing where I go, feel free to PM me because I don’t think we’re supposed to “advertise” in our posts.

The other option is to try a Costco. I tried Costco first, but unfortunately the girl at the location closest to where I live wasn’t that great at fitting for my flat loss. It’s like any profession. There are some who are fantastic at their jobs and others who aren’t. If you’re in or near Edmonton or Calgary, there are several Costcos in each city you can try. They have great prices, and if I had found a good fitter, I definitely would have gone the Costco route! (For what it’s worth, I have no personal connection with Costco!) My Father-in-Law got hearing aids in November from the same Costco I went to. He has a traditional ski-slope loss, and has been very, very happy with his hearing aids!!! And, the price for both of his hearing aids was $1,000 less than the cost for my one hearing aid!!

If you’re interested I know the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, which has chapters in Edmonton and Calgary, have a used hearing aid bank. You might benefit from contacting them. I could be wrong, but from what I understand they will give you the hearing aids for a very, very low fee (and in some cases, for free if you can demonstrate financial need). You’ll need to pay the cost of the hearing test (which in many places, such as Costco, is free), and the cost of the ear mold or receiver/dome combination. That might be worth looking into. Their contact information is on the web.

One more thing to consider is that most post-secondary institutions in Canada have some sort of extended-health coverage. I know for sure the U of A does. That kind of coverage might offset at least some of the cost of hearing aids.

As I said above, please feel free to PM me. If I can be of any assistance, I’m more than happy to do so. I’m a new hearing aid user so I’ve been through testing out and purchasing my first hearing aid within the last few months.


HI Arky,

I am new to hearing aids - six days into my first trial. I have mild hearing loss in the higher frequency range. Volume is not my challenge - clarity is the pain point in my hearing. When I am in auditoriums, conference rooms, restaurants, etc. I can hear everything else around except the person in front of me. I became really tired of having to ask people to constantly repeat themselves, and I was also wondering why I was so tired by 6PM every night when I was doing all the right things. My brain has been working overtime in trying to keep up with the world around me.

In just a few short days, I can see what I have been missing with my hearing. So can my family. My brain does not feel like it is spinning incessantly and music is a joy to listen to again.

Please find another audiologist who will listen to YOUR needs. I can’t tell you the boost in quality of life HAs will give you.


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