Hearing aids for slight/mild loss

At the age of 37, I was recently diagnosed with a slight to mild hearing loss (right: 0,5: 25; 1: 30, 2: 35, 4: 35, 8: 25 / left: 0,5: 25; 1: 25, 2: 25, 4: 25, 8: 30). Before being fitted with hearing aids, I was told by a couple of audiologists that I did not “really need” hearing aids because my loss is “not severe enough”. And since this attitude seems to be rather pervasive, I wanted to share my experience with hearing aids and ask if others have made similar experiences. Once I was given my first pair of hearing aids to try out, I immediately noticed improvements in several areas:

  • Everything sounded much more “alive”, kind of like the difference between a faded color photograph and a brand new print.
  • I could hear soft sounds like clocks ticking, birds chirping, rivers gurgling, leaves rustling much more clearly.
  • I could understand the lyrics of songs better.
  • And most importantly: I misunderstood people much less frequently and did not have to ask people to repeat themselves nearly as often as I did without hearing aids. This is particularly true in the classroom settings where I work as a teacher.
  • As a consequence, I feel noticeably more secure and confident with my hearing aids than without.
    To me, these improvements are well worth any potential stigma attached to wearing visible hearing aids at a rather young age. I now wear my hearing aids during all waking hours and would not want to be without them. What are your experiences with slight/mild hearing loss? Did you opt for hearing aids and if so, at what point? What are your experiences with hearing aids?

I am not sure I would get hearing aids with a loss as slight as yours. However, I avoided dealing with hearing loss in my left ear for many years, and now have found I cannot get a good recovery with that ear. I should have gotten aids much sooner.


I was told I was “on the edge” and as you can see my loss is pretty significant in higher frequencies. I opted for hearing aids. I can still get by without them, but am in general pleased. I think there are two main questions to answer: 1) Are you (or others) bothered by your hearing loss? If yes, then 2) Do hearing aids help? If yes, then it doesn’t really matter what others think.

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I am 10 years older than you. my hearing loss has not changed dramatically the last decade and although it is more severe than yours, I regret that it took me almost 10 years to get hearing aids. They have mostly just become a part of me and I barely notice I wear them. It has been life changing at work. Video conferences and large meetings used to be a real challenge. I manage well in most situations without HAs, but they have resolved challenging situations related to understand what’s being said.

I have mild hearing loss, but it affects my ability to converse. It’s complicated by some kind of cognitive deficit where I have to hear more of the spoken content to achieve understanding.

Anyway, I got my first HA (for my “bad ear”) at about your age with about your loss. It helped marginally, but I eventually stopped wearing it because with infrequent use the battery would always be dead when I needed it. After a while it got lost, I think at one workplace I was that closed down.

20 years or so later I was tired of cupping my hand to hear people talk or hear movies, so I got retested. I had dropped from around 30dB down in my “bad” ear to 40-50dB down. I decided to get a pair and commit to wearing them constantly, because my other ear had dropped to the 20-30dB level and started to need help. Also for symmetry.

I can still function OK without them, unlike a lot people here for whom they’re critical. But that being said, there’s a big difference between just OK versus comfortable and confident. At least to me.

Not so much to my wife given the $4000 price tag, but that’s another story.

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Tom, do you mind if i Quote what you have said for an article on Hearing Aid Know? I won’t use your details, just basically what you have said. I was going to do an article on functional hearing loss and the perceived benefit of hearing aids for some people with mild hearing loss.

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No, I don’t mind if you quote the content without my personal details. That sounds like an interesting article.

Cheers Tom, I will add the link when I am finished.

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As a relatively young user of HAs too (I’m 44), with not terrible hearing (pretty much normal through 3kHz, then dropping from moderate to severe through 4-6-8kHz), I’ve found that I’m MUCH more comfortable knowing that they can mostly correct what I’m missing.

There’s annoyingly only so much they can do in the 6-8kHz range, but even so the difference is very noticeable, and even after only using them for a bit over a month, I find I hate going without them. Being able to stream audio and calls directly to them is pretty sweet too. And with everything people wear on their ears nowadays, I’m not sure anyone really notices or cares that I’m wearing them.

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My best loss figures are worse than your worst figures. In addition,I have severe to profound high frequency loss. I get by pretty well without aids, and after having been fit with aids, I can’t say that I hear any better with than without. I am glad you find them helpful. I wouldn’t worry about folks noticing that you wear aids. I don’t think there is a stigma associated with them any more. With so many people running around with ear buds in their ears, I doubt anyone would even notice.

I think the OP is a prime example of how aids can help a persons hearing before it gets bad. It appears to be very easy for Tom to get all his hearing/understanding back with aids.
Most of us waited until it was difficult to hear, much less understand speech. Many of the members are just trying to understand speech with hearing aids.

I wonder if the cause of the hearing loss plays a role in this at all.

I experienced SSHL left ear only and NEEDED a hearing aid, RIGHT NOW. And it made a big difference. I wore that one aid daily from soon after getting up until I went to bed. I don’t know if I adjusted, if my brain adjusted, or if my hearing improved but after 4 years, I wasn’t using the hearing aid all waking hours as I had been for the first 19 months and more.

Now . . . well about 3 week back . . . I’ve again had a sudden, huge hearing loss, this time both ears are involved. And I can’t WAIT to get in to CostCo (mine has a 4 week wait for appointments, even though I am an existing customer!) to get new hearing aids and hear again.

I walk a local rail trail daily for exercise. Until 3 weeks ago, I was hearing the birds, the green frogs (they make a sound like a banjo string being plucked, “twang!”) and more. Just now, it is a completely silent walk for me. I keep looking around and checking behind me, just to be sure where other people are located (safety thing).

In a classroom, and esp. as a teacher, I can well imagine the difference the hearing aids make for you. Keep enjoying the sounds!

Pure tone thresholds are not the real world, and only present part of the story

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Ah, yes, location is actually another thing that is definitely improved with hearing aids. Without hearing aids, I was noticing that I could not always tell where a voice was coming from in the classroom. I don’t think I’ve actually had that issue since I wear hearing aids.

I’d say maybe not quite all of my hearing. I still sometimes struggle to understand and have to ask people to repeat (in situations where people with no hearing loss don’t seem to have any problems), but it’s definitely much better with hearing aids than without.

Many people actually do notice hearing aids (at least in my experience). I’ve gotten comments about them from many different people. They weren’t negative, more surprised or curious. No stigma, though, I don’t know … I could see my hearing aids giving a potential new employer pause in hiring me. I could at least imagine that it might make them wonder if I can actually do my job.

When I was first diagnosed with some hearing loss it was in 2008, around the same time I was diagnosed with Meniere’s that is also responsible for most of my hearing loss. That’s a strange disorder, because fluctuating hearing is one of the main symptoms. It makes it that much more difficult to fit hearing aids. In the beginning I had trouble hearing on the phone and someone from a support forum online actually donated a sound amplification device that he had used for a while. He didn’t need it any longer since he had lost too much of his hearing. That worked for a while.

In 2013 I was told by the audiologist that I should consider hearing aids. I just couldn’t afford them. We had multiple medical bills we were paying off and my husband is on a fixed income.

In 2014, I was told the same thing, but that my hearing hadn’t changed drastically since the year before. Sure, I struggled at times to hear on my cell phone or I had to turn the TV way up. One day at the grocery store someone pushed their cart into my back because he had said “excuse me” several time and I didn’t move! Can you imagine?!

By 2016 my hearing had decreased even more, and I still resisted, cost being the major factor. I bought a set of wireless earbuds and connected them to my phone and tv to hear better, but that only worked if I was the only one needing to hear at the time.

2017 again I said I couldn’t afford, but it was becoming more and more difficult to function at work. I was making mistakes due to having heard the wrong thing or not hearing something at all. I hated to answer the phone or attend meetings.

December 2018, I was told that my hearing had progressed to moderately severe in 1 ear and moderate in the other. I am now financing hearing aids for 3 years and it’s a huge hit to our budget, it’s causing a lot of hardship to make the payment each month.

As soon as I tried the first set of hearing aids and heard how things sounded, it was drastic to me. You don’t miss what you don’t hear is somewhat true. I had forgotten how things sounded. Walking around in the store and hearing the wheels on a cart, hearing the sound of rain on the roof, thunder during a storm, how people’s voices sounded. My poor husband had been yelling for years so that I could hear him and now he was talking way too loud still. He still does at times, due to habit. I found out that I had been talking way too loud for years also.

In hindsight, regardless of the financial difficulties this has caused, the past year has been so much less stressful at home, out in public, and at work. I do wish that I had been able to get hearing aids many years before I did. I think that even at the milder stages it would have helped me. I also wear my hearing aids during all my waking hours, with the exception of when I first get up and have my coffee. Once I shower, the hearing aids go on and stay on until I go to bed. I barely notice they’re there. I have various programs to choose from and can even set and save other programs for specific rooms, such as the company conference room. In the past year, my right ear has also gotten worse very rapidly. All the audiologist had to do was adjust my pre-programmed choices and add another.

It is unfortunate that hearing aids are so expensive. There are many organizations that help to pay for them, but there are also people like me, who make too much money to qualify, yet they have existing financial obligations that already have them strapped for cash. Insurance should be made to cover them, at least to share part of the cost. There are so many people whose lives could be better if only they had hearing aids.


Hi Tom4!

I’m glad seeing someone that is experiencing the same thing as me.
I’m also 37 and if I look at your audiogram, it kind of look like mine.

It has been days and night since I started wearing the “loaner” they lended me back in August.
My energy level is up as I’m not constantly trying to focus on understanding other people in meetings and noisy restaurants.

Game changer!

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Hey LilG! Thank you for mentioning the cost of hearing aids. It’s really terrible that so many insurance plans will not cover hearing aids or only cover very basic models that don’t really help in more complex listening environments. That really needs to change! I’m glad to hear you have hearing aids now, but getting them really shouldn’t be causing the kind of financial hardship you’re describing.

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