Hearing management

Updated 17 July 2018

7 facts you probably didn’t know about hearing aids

Hearing aids aren't just for elderly people – we’ve uncovered seven facts you probably didn’t know about these handy pieces of technology.


Despite the fact that many people use hearing aids, many of us may not fully understand what they actually do or how they work. We've uncovered seven facts you should know about these useful devices.       

1. Hearing aids are not just for the elderly

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 466 million people across the world suffer from disabling hearing loss – 34 million of these are children. It’s estimated that by 2050 more than 900 million people will be affected by disabling hearing loss. The WHO says that 1.1 billion young people – between the age of 12 and 35 – are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise in recreational settings. 

2. Hearing aids can adjust automatically to surrounding noise

Our ears do an amazing job of picking up important sounds – such as your dinner date’s conversation in a busy restaurant or a bored colleague muttering under his breath at a meeting. Hearing aids can do exactly the same, and technological advancements have made them versatile in all sound environments.

3. Hearing aids will not cure your hearing loss

A hearing aid will not return your hearing to normal. And while a hearing aid won't cure your hearing loss, it will help you to hear conversations, the TV or the radio. A hearing aid will definitely improve your quality of life.

4. You should not buy hearing aids online

Sure, if you search online you might find a hearing aid that is more affordable than the quote you received. However, it’s impossible to know whether the device will work for you – in the same way that prescription glasses are tailored to your eyesight, hearing aids are tailored to your hearing needs. An audiologist needs to test your hearing and find the right hearing aid for you.

Doctor fitting hearing aid

5. You may need a hearing aid even if you have mild hearing loss

We all have different needs when it comes to hearing, and while some people with mild hearing loss don't require a hearing aid, others find that it makes a huge difference to them. If you are concerned or confused, book an appointment with an audiologist who will be able to help you figure out what you need.

6. You may need to wear two hearing aids even if you only experience hearing loss in one ear

You use both ears to hear, which means wearing two hearing aids may improve your hearing even more. According to the American Speech, Language, Hearing Association, wearing two hearings aids “lets you figure out where sounds come from. This is called localisation. It helps in noisy places and makes sounds more natural. Wearing two aids may make it easier to understand what others say.”

7. Hearing aids can be used in any lifestyle

As technology continues to improve, it means that no matter what type of lifestyle you currently enjoy, you'll be able to find a suitable hearing aid. Nowadays you can find hearing aids that are water resistant or waterproof. Just because you need to wear a hearing aid doesn't mean you have to change your lifestyle.  

Woman with hearing aid at beach

Image credit: iStock


Ask the Expert

Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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