Hearing aids are technological devices worn within the ear that amplify sounds so they can be heard by individuals with hearing loss. Once put into place, a person who otherwise struggled to hear is able to hear sound with greater ease. Though hearing aids are often associated with an aging population, they can be helpful for people of any age who struggle to hear.
The need for a hearing aid often occurs when the inner ear’s sensory cells (also known as inner ear hair cells) suffer damage. More severe damage to the inner ear hair cells causes more hearing loss. This damage can be brought upon by an acute injury, but typically occurs over time — for example as a result of repeated exposure to loud sounds that causes the inner ear hair cells die. Noise-induced hearing loss and age-related hearing loss often start with difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds but can make it difficult to hear all sounds. Hearing loss of this sort makes it difficult to understand speech if surrounded by other sounds, and unlike other causes (such as ear infection, otosclerosis, earwax or ruptured eardrum), this hearing loss is not currently irreversible.
Hearing aids now come in a variety of styles to fit individual needs, including: