Why Aren’t Hearing Aids Enough For Some People?

While the majority of people who suffer from hearing loss may be helped with hearing aids, for some, hearing aids do not provide the benefits they need. Why is this?

Simply stated, hearing aids only amplify sounds. For people with a moderate – to – profound hearing loss, even the most advanced hearing aids may not work because making sounds louder does not make them clearer.

You may be able to hear sound with hearing aids, but understanding speech and other sounds may still be very difficult. Using a hearing aid with a moderate – to – profound hearing loss can be likened to listening to a loud, badly tuned radio program. Your experience only fragments of the program, but at full volume. And in some cases hearing aids may not provide audibility. In such cases, a cochlear implant may be the best option.

Seeing that this is your very first post in the forum, can you share with us your personal hearing situation (via an audiogram and whether you’re wearing HAs and if yes, which one)? Just so that we can understand better where you’re coming from with all these questions and observations, and the reasons behind your questions and statements.

I would say that HAs do more than amplify sounds, unlike your simple generalization. The digital ones also process sounds to some degree or other. There’s compression, beam forming, noise reduction, feedback management, connectivity to other devices, etc.

With regards to your statement about making sounds louder doesn’t make them clearer, that’s true. But it’s the same issue normal hearing people face anyway. Normal hearing people have to use their brain hearing power to separate and focus and tune in/tune out sounds, etc. to get clarity out of what they want to hear. No different with hearing challenged people in that respect. Surely, hearing challenged people need as much help they can get from HAs because of their disadvantage, and also because of limitations of HAs. But they also need their brain hearing to do the rest of the processing as well. The HA can’t do everything for them.

But in general, HAs are enough for some people and not others because of the degree and type of hearing loss that are different between people, and also because of the differences in people’s brain hearing power. The HAs can only help so much, but the person wearing the HA also must train their brain hearing to make the most use out of what the HAs can deliver to them in the first place.

In my time over the years I have worked with 3 profoundly deaf and blind clients as a communicator guide, I used deaf/blind manual to sign with them, you basically sign on their hands, tis all touch… I can assure you when working with these guys twas a sheer joy to behold, the laughter was never far from any of our lips! I am always humbled when I think back, any problems I have had and they all pale into insignificance! Their lust for life with laughter always came to the fore and it was an extreme pleasure to work with them all… One of them wore 2 HA’s and in all honesty he would have been just as well to ware 2 rocks in either ear as he got no contextual information whatsoever from any hearing aid, one day I asked him why he wore a couple of ultra power HA’s… he said he just liked to hear something didn’t matter if it made no sense, he could hear something!!! He had gradually gone blind and deaf and he was around 25 years old when I knew him. At a guess, he was in a dark place and perhaps when on his own he might have been frightened and hearing any noise gave him some reassurance? Everything is relative Sphearclinic. Cheers Kev,

sphearclinic: the aids you describe sound like ones I started with way back in the early '90s - no kidding! Yes, there are awful aids out there that merely amplify ALL sounds uniformly. I don’t even know the brand names of these aids (if they still exist!) because those kind of companies should go out of business. That is like handing everyone who needs any kind of corrective vision ware a big, hand-held magnifying glass! Obviously, you can’t drive a car, walk down stairs, or see anything beyond your nose when ALL things in front of your eyes is magnified! Instead, vision prescriptions adjust for each eye’s needs, to enable the best overall vision. Granted, folks over 45 still need reading glasses in addition to ones for general vision.

Similarly, HAs need to be fine-tuned for each ear’s needs. My ears are similar in their loss, so the fine-tuning isn’t as involved as say, someone with normal hearing in one ear and completely deaf in the other. It takes a qualified audiologist to work with a patient to fit aids to that person’s needs AND listening preferences. I’ve worn aids more than 30 years, and I can vouch that today’s aids do NOT amplify all sound across the board. In fact, with things like directionality and frequency adjustments, my aids compensate for my needs in a variety of settings (quiet room, noisy place, the phone, dynamic music listening, etc.).

I hope this will encourage you to open your mind to the possibility of a QUALITY aid, fit by a professional! Yes, new aids are rocket science in terms of repeated appointments to adjust the fitting - but if you are persistent and can articulate HOW you want to hear, adjustments can be made.

It all has to do with how much damage is in the inner ear, if there isn’t a lot of hair cells left to hear the different frequencies with, you may hear sound, but you might not be able to make much sense out of what you are hearing. However, if you have hearing loss and still have a fair amount of the hair cells left you will do pretty good with HA’s. If you have a conductive loss as long as you can get the sound loud enough you will also hear pretty good because your middle ear is where the damage is and the inner ear is still good.

^^^^ Seb, I’m curious: do you know if there is a test, exam or some way out there to tell how many hair cells a person has left? Would that show up in the audiogram or speech recognition test? I ask cuz I swear, I am BALD as an egg in there, but have no way of knowing for sure. My loss is pretty profound, and I have tinnitus on top of that, due to one of MANY childhood ear infections. I have kept an eye on the stem cell and hair cell research … but it seems light years off to ever do me any good.

lol Bluejay :-)) at a guess we are both in severe/profound threshold, but I’m not going to argue who’s balder:cool: I have never heard of a way to measure how many hair cells are dead or alive, perhaps the only way to examine the cochlear when you are still living is during implant surgery? Access as you are aware is fairly limited. One thing is for sure… If they were poker chips, me and you wouldn’t have many to play with:D cheers Kev.

If your severe/profound not too many, profound fewer still, if you hear a buzz during a hearing test you likely have a cochlear dead zone which means you don’t have any or only a few remaining cells at that frequency remaining.

Yes. I was born with a profound hearing loss in both ears. And first wore the body aids before switching over to the BTE’s later on when I was a teenager. And didn’t get a CI till I was an adult. And could see the difference that I could hear and communicate better with the CI than I ever did with the HA’s growing up.

I started with aids in the early 70’s. There was no digital technology back then, and miniaturization was in its infancy. It’s not that the companies were bad and needed to go out of business, its that the technology was primitive. All you could really do was manipulate linear analog amplifiers. Up until some point in the early 90’s I had a reverse ski slope loss, and I grew up thinking everything sounded like a lot of high frequency and not a lot of low, simply because to give me the amp I needed down low, they had to over amp up high. Feedback was my constant enemy until digital came along.

Most of what the other comments say are correct. For those of us with severe to profound loss, even the strongest HAs are useful only for hearing the occasional word or two, and only in a quiet environment.

The OP is just another chain-jerker stayed around 4 days…