​In the meantime there are simple things you can do to hear better with or without hearing aids. Communication is a two-way street. Here are tips for the person who hears well, and for the person who has the hearing loss.

Tips for hearing person to communicate with person who has the hearing loss
     Set your stage
    •    Get their attention first. 
    •    Face person directly.
    •    Spotlight your face (no backlighting).
    •    Avoid noisy backgrounds. 
    •    Ask how you can facilitate communication.
    •    When audio and acoustics are poor, emphasize the visual.

     Get the point across
    •    Don't shout
   •    Speak clearly, at moderate pace, not overemphasizing words.
    •    Don't hide your mouth, chew food or gum, or smoke while talking. 
    •    Rephrase if you are not understood.
    •    Use facial expressions, gestures.
    •    Give clues when changing subjects or say "new subject."

Establish empathy with your audience
    •    Be patient if response seems slow.
    •    Talk to the hard of hearing person, not about hime or her to another person.
    •    Show respect to help build confidence and have a constructive conversation.
    •    Maintain a sense of humor, stay positive and relaxed.

Tips for the person with hearing loss to communicate with the hearing person

Set your stage
    •    Tell others how best to talk to you.
    •    Pick your best spot (light, quiet area, close to speaker)
    •    Anticipate difficult situations, plan how to minimize them.

Do your part
    •    Pay attention.
    •    Concentrate on speaker.
    •    Look for visual clues.
    •    Ask for written cues if needed.
    •    Don't interrupt. Let conversation flow to fill in the blanks and gain more meaning.
    •    Maintain a sense of humor, stay positive and relaxed.

Establish empathy with your audience
    •    React. Let the speaker know how well he or she is conveying the information. 
    •    Don't bluff. Admit it when you don't understand. 
    •    If too tired to concentrate, ask for discussion later.
    •    Thank the speaker for trying.

Beyond the hearing aid, help is available
Join HLAA at www.hearingloss.org and learn more about what you can do to cope with your hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America, founded in 1979, opens the world of communication to people with hearing loss through information, education, advocacy and support. 
     HLAA publishes Hearing Loss Magazine, holds annual conventions, produces the Walk4Hearing TM, hosts online learning with the Hearing Loss Academy, chat forums, and more. HLAA has more than 200 chapters and 14 state organizations. 

​What cause hearing loss? 
Hearing loss can be caused by noise, heredity, excessive earwax, aging, some medications, infections, and medical conditions such as diabetes.


​What other medical conditions may contribute to hearing loss?

  • Meniere's disease occurs when excessive fluid in the inner ear causes pressure on the balance and hearing system.
  •  Otosclerosis is a hereditary disorder in which a bony growth forms around a small bone in middle ear, preventing it from vibrating when stimulated by sound.
  • Otitis Media is an infection of the middle ear in which an accumulation of fluid may interfere with the movement of the eardrum and ossicles (small bones which vibrate to sound).
  • ​Tinnitus is a common symptom indicated by ringing or a sensation of noise in the ear and/or head. It is associated with middle ear infections, aging, noise exposure, certain medications, and could be a symptom of other medical conditions. 


How does noise affect hearing? 
Prolonged exposure to high-intensity noise, sudden blasts such as those experienced in the military, loud concerts, MP3 players at high volume for many hours, and machinery such as leaf blowers and lawn mowers used for long periods with no ear protection can cause permanent damage to the inner ear. No medical or surgical treatment can correct a hearing loss resulting from noise exposure. Prevention is important.

What should I do if I think I have a hearing loss? 
See an ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist or otologist) or your primary care physician to see if you have a hearing loss and to rule out any medical condition. 
    
 You may also choose to go to an audiologist directly without seeing a doctor. In this case, you would need to sign a waiver, because currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that you see a physician first. 

What will I learn from the doctor? 
You will find out if you have a hearing loss, what might be causing it, and if it can be treated. For example, fluid in the middle ear or wax in the ear canal can cause hearing loss.

     If you do have a hearing loss, don't despair. There are several things you can do to hear and cope better in situations that have caused you difficulty in communicating. 


     In the event that you are diagnosed with a hearing loss the physician should refer you to a qualified hearing health professional for a full hearing test.  This test will tell you the degree and type of hearing loss and also determine if you could be helped by hearing aids. The hearing health professional will recommend what type of hearing aid is best for your hearing loss. 

     If the physician finds no medical cause for your hearing loss and does not refer you for further testing and tells you that nothing can be done fro you,  you should make an appointment directly with a hearing health professional for a full hearing test and evaluation. ​

Are You Afraid to Know for Sure?  Do You Know Someone Who May Not Admit He or She Has a Hearing Loss?

If you think you or someone you know might have a hearing loss, you are not alone. Seventeen percent of people in the United States have a hearing loss. If you have suspected for a while but just haven’t got around to doing anything about it, that is not unusual. On average, it takes people seven years from the time they think they might have a hearing loss to the time they seek treatment.

How can I tell if I have a hearing loss?

If you answer yes to some of the following questions, you may have a hearing loss
     

     Do you...

  • Often ask people to repeat what they say?
  • Have trouble hearing in groups?
  • Think others mumble?
  • Fail to hear someone talking from behind you?
  • Turn up the volume on the TV or car radio?
  • Have difficulty on the phone?
  • Have trouble hearing your alarm clock?
  • Have difficulty hearing at the movies
  • Dread going to noisy parties and restaurants?


Think about these situations

  • Are you embarrassed to talk openly about not being able to hear?
  • Are you cutting out activities that you used to love but have become painful because you cannot join in fully anymore?
  • At work are you afraid to reveal your hearing loss in case it jeopardizes your job and your supervisor and coworkers may see you as less competent?
  • Are you bluffing when out with friends in noisy restaurants?
  • Are you feeling cut off from your young children because you cannot hear their high-pitched voices?
  • Are family holidays a strain because so many people are talking at once?


These are common reactions and can lead to withdrawal from social interaction, anxiety, loss of self-esteem and even depression.


“I can hear but can’t understand.”
Other Things to Consider if You Think You or Someone You Know Has a Hearing Loss


For most adults, the onset and progression of a hearing loss extends over some time.

Often, people will blame their hearing problems on the nature of the other person’s speech. For example, someone might say: “If people wouldn’t mumble, I could hear! “Or, “People talked a lot clearer when I was younger.”

One’s family and friends are likely to be the first to notice some difficulty hearing, long before the person does.

Typically at this stage, the individual will deny a problem. This is understandable, since there is usually great variability in how the person functions in various situations and with different people. In some situations and with some people, he or she may do pretty well.

People will not be aware of what they don’t hear (like the sounds of birds, the beep of the microwave, and soft everyday sounds). They will be aware that they do not understand speech, as when they say, “I can hear but can’t understand,” especially the high-pitched voices of children.

Family members frequently complain that the TV volume is set too high, leading to some family squabbles.

The person with hearing loss will notice difficulty in understanding when someone talks from another room.

Probably, the major complaint of people with hearing loss is the difficulty they experience in comprehending speech in any kind of noisy place (restaurants, receptions, large family dinners, in the car, or on a plane).

Group conversations are particularly difficult, especially when there is great deal of cross-talk.

These increasing difficulties in hearing may produce conflict between the person with hearing loss and family members, with the family insisting on getting help and the person with hearing loss reluctant to recognize the reality. This stage may last for seven or more years before the hearing loss and the problems that go along with it are acknowledged and help is sought. 

For children who are hard of hearing, the situation is different. Parents should be on the lookout for delayed or aberrant speech and language development, apparent inattention, and poor school work. Hearing screenings in classrooms are necessary, but not mandated in all states. Ask your pediatrician to do a hearing screening at the annual check-up. Go to our 
Parents page for more information.

Get a Hearing Test to Know for Sure

Follow the recommended steps to getting a diagnosis and treatment.


Diagnosing Hearing Loss

How is hearing loss diagnosed?

A hearing loss is diagnosed based on the person’s history, behavior, and the results of medical and audiological examinations.

If anyone, doctor or someone else, tells you that nothing can be done about your hearing loss and you should just learn to live this it, seek another opinion.

What should I do if I think I have a hearing loss?

See an ear, nose and throat doctor (otolaryngologist or otologist) or your primary care physician to see if you have a hearing loss and to rule out any medical condition.

You may also choose to go to an audiologist directly without seeing a doctor. In this case you would need to sign a waiver, because currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that you see a physician first. HLAA supports going to an audiologist first.

What will I learn from the doctor?

You will find out from the doctor if you have a hearing loss, 
what might be causing it, (link to Hearing Loss Causes and Prevention) and if it can be treated. For example, fluid in the middle ear or wax in the ear canal can cause hearing loss.

If you do have a hearing loss, don’t despair. There are several things you can do to hear and cope better in situations that have caused you difficulty in communicating.

In the event that you are diagnosed with a hearing loss the physician should refer you to a qualified hearing health professional for a full hearing test. This test will tell you the degree and type of hearing loss and also determine if you could be helped by hearing aids. The hearing health professional will recommend what type of hearing aid is best for your hearing loss.

If the physician finds no medical cause for your hearing loss and does not refer you for further testing and tells you that nothing can be done for you, you should make an appointment directly with a hearing health professional for a full hearing test and evaluation. This will include an 
audiogram.


There is a difference between hearing testing and hearing screening. Find out more from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

If a hearing aid is recommended where do I get one? Will my insurance cover it?

Hearing aids are dispensed by audiologists and hearing instrument specialists. There are many types of hearing aids that vary in cost, design, and features. Hearing aids are covered by some private insurance plans, company plans, the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, and Tricare, the plan for active and retired military and their families. Some plans cover hearing testing, but not the hearing aids. Medicaid covers hearing aids for children in some states. Medicare does not cover hearing aids.

For information about assistance go to
Financial Assistance page.

Is there anything I should be aware of when buying my hearing aid?

HLAA recommends following best practices to help you know what to ask for and look for when buying a hearing aid. Download the HLAA publication
Purchasing a Hearing Aid: A Consumer Checklist as a starting point.

Most states have laws in place that provide for a 30-day trial period. However, state laws vary, some have a longer period, some none at all, and some providers will offer more time. Ask your provider to give a written statement regarding the trial period, with the start and end dates noted, as well as whether the trial period will be stopped if you have to return the hearing aid for repairs during the trial.

Find a hearing professional you are comfortable with and who will work with you until you get the optimum results for your hearing loss.

Ask about various options available in the hearing aid, such as a
telecoil that is convenient to use with telephones and hearing assistive technology.

What else should I know about hearing aids?

Hearing aids will not correct hearing like glasses correct vision. Don’t expect 20/20 hearing but they will help you hear in many situations. Your new hearing aids may require follow-up visits for technical tweaks by your provider. Adjusting to hearing aids takes time and perseverance, but it is worth it. You may have a love/hate relationship with your hearing aid at first, as no one is enthusiastic about getting a hearing aid. But after a while, you will not want to be without it.

A hearing aid coupled with your willingness to tell others how to communicate with you and your practicing good speechreading and communication strategies, is a winning combination and will get you back into your social and family life as you once knew it.

Read more about
hearing aids.

What is an otolaryngologist?

Otolaryngologist (ENT) (oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/gist) - a physician trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. For an otolaryngologist near you call the American Academy of Otolaryngology at 703.836.4444 or visit AAO-HNS at
www.entnet.org.

What is an audiologist?

Audiologist is a health care professional qualified to do a thorough evaluation of your hearing. The audiologist can determine your type and degree of hearing loss and whether or not you can be helped by hearing aids and, if so, the best type of hearing aid for you. The audiologist will recommend a treatment program to assist you with your communication needs and, if indicated, may recommend a medical evaluation.

For more information or for an audiologist near you, call the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) at 800. 638.8255 or visit ASHA at
www.asha.org; or call the American Academy of Audiology (the Academy) at 800.AAA.2336 or visit them at www.audiology.org.

What is a hearing instrument specialist?

Hearing instrument specialist is a professional certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences (BC-HIS) and licensed or registered in all states. This specialist does an assessment, fits and dispenses hearing aids, and provides instruction in the use and care of hearing aids and related devices. For a hearing instrument specialist near you, call the International Hearing Society's (IHS) Hearing Aid Helpline at 800.521.5247 or visit IHS at
www.ihsinfo.org.

We also have a
HLAA Professional Membership Directory of those professionals listed above who value HLAA and have chosen to join us.


For more information for National Hearing Association of America (HLAA), go to www.hearingloss.org

Do You Think You Have a Hearing Loss? 

TIPS & ADVICE:

Don't Let your hearing loss

shut you out!

Basic Communication Tips:

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