You Asked It: How Do I Know When I’m Ready to Purchase Hearing Aids?

“I just got a routine hearing test that shows my hearing is declining. I am a candidate for hearing aids, but how do I know if I should purchase now?”

This is a common concern for people who are newly diagnosed with hearing loss. They fear that they will spend too much money on something they don’t really need or even want. How do you know when it’s time to do something about your hearing loss? And what is the downside to waiting?

I often find myself counseling patients in this situation. Typically, one of the first things I ask my patients when discussing their hearing loss is: In what type of situations do you notice difficulty hearing? Some people notice a great deal of difficulty in restaurants, large family gatherings, and social events. Others have difficulty hearing the television or on the phone. Still there are others who notice difficulty in pretty much every situation. I have found that the degree of hearing loss does not always correlate to their amount of difficulty. The audiogram (the chart we use to plot hearing loss) is only one indicator of hearing aid candidacy. The other factor we look at is the effect the hearing loss has on the person’s quality of life.

Hearing loss is not considered a “life-threatening” condition, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t down sides to untreated hearing loss. The most common negative side-effect to hearing loss is social isolation. As one starts to lose their ability to hear, they tend to retract from noisy and socially stimulating environments. This can lead to a feeling of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and even cognitive decline. Those are very real issues that can truly affect one’s health and happiness in life. So what I often tell patients who are not sure about hearing aids is this: When your hearing loss begins affecting your quality of life and prevent you from doing things you once loved to do, it’s time to talk about hearing aids.