Better Me

Your Partner Says You Have Trouble Hearing—Now What?

Your partner complains that you want the TV volume turned up too high. Your kids say they have to repeat themselves when they talk to you. And you’ve noticed that sometimes, it’s hard to understand what people are saying even though you can hear them.

Sound like you? If so, you might be experiencing hearing loss. And depending on what’s causing your hearing loss, there are treatment options that can help you hear better.

Nicholas Dewyer, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Banner - University Medical Center Tucson, says that there are two main categories of hearing loss:

  • Sound vibrations might not reach the inner ear because something is blocking them. This is called conductive hearing loss. It could be something as simple as wax buildup.
  • There’s a problem with the electrical part of your hearing system. This is called sensorineural hearing loss. It is the type of hearing loss that many people develop as they get older.

Where should I turn for help?

If you’re experiencing hearing loss, the best place to start is with an audiologist. An audiologist can test your hearing and help you explore your treatment options. For conductive hearing loss, medical and surgical treatments might help. For sensorineural hearing loss, hearing aids are a better choice.

“A hearing aid improves hearing kind of like eyeglasses do for people with poor eyesight. It’s not a perfect analogy, but the bottom line is that for people who find they are struggling to hear, a hearing aid can help improve hearing,” Dr. Dewyer said. “Hearing aids often dramatically improve hearing for people with sensorineural hearing loss.”

Here’s how hearing aids work

Hearing aids amplify the sounds that you’re struggling to hear. They are almost all digital, and they are powered by a small disposable or rechargeable battery. They pick up sounds, convert the sounds to a digital signal, adjust that sound based on what you need, and send the adjusted sound into your ear so you can hear it better.

Hearing aids can fit inside your ear canal or the shell of your ear or can hook behind your ear. Generally, larger hearing aids pack more power and include more features.

Don’t expect to just pop your hearing aids in and see results. You’ll need to practice listening with your hearing aids and get accustomed to wearing them to get the full benefits they can provide. You’ll also need to learn how to set up features that can help improve your hearing. Hearing aid technology can include noise reduction, wireless connectivity, synchronization between two hearing aids, and other advanced features.

Cost can be a barrier for hearing aids

Health insurance rarely pays for hearing aids for adults. And each hearing aid can cost $2,000 or more. “As an ear specialist, the fact that hearing aids aren’t covered by insurance is probably the biggest problem I see with hearing healthcare,” Dewyer said.

Turning to lower-cost solutions can be tempting, but you might not get the results you’re hoping for. “With hearing aids, you often get what you pay for, meaning that the really cheap hearing aids you see advertised in infomercials and at stores often don’t work well,” Dewyer said. “Starting with an evaluation by an audiologist will often save you time and hassle in the long run.”

If you’ve begun noticing small hearing issues, you may be wondering what could be causing your hearing loss. You might already have hearing aids and need help deciding if they are still the right solution for you. To learn more about treatment options, find a hearing specialist near you by visiting

Ear, Nose and Throat Senior Health