U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. Medical Devices
  3. Products and Medical Procedures
  4. Home Health and Consumer Devices
  5. Consumer Products
  6. Hearing Aids
  7. Hearing Aid Benefits and Limitations
  1. Hearing Aids

Hearing Aid Benefits and Limitations

On this page:

What are the benefits of hearing aids?

  • You may hear sounds that you have not previously heard.
  • You may hear speech over the telephone more clearly.
  • You may communicate more easily with family and friends.
  • You may improve communication in noisy listening situations, such as at a restaurant or in a large group of people.

Do hearing aids have limitations?

  • Hearing aids do NOT restore normal hearing, unlike eyeglasses or contact lenses which can restore 20/20 vision.
  • Hearing aids can amplify all sounds, including background noise, that you may not want to hear.
  • Hearing aids usually entail an adjustment period that may take several months. You may also need to adjust hearing aid settings over time.
  • When you begin to use hearing aids, many sounds, including your voice, might seem too loud.
  • You may need to learn how to adjust the settings for hearing aids that might have more complicated technology.
  • Hearing aids can be expensive.

Aural rehabilitation may help overcome potential hearing aid limitations. Aural rehabilitation is a patient-centered approach to reduce the impact of hearing loss on communication. For more information about aural rehabilitation, please see the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website for Adult Aural/Audiologic Rehabilitation and Child Aural/Audiologic Rehabilitation.

When should I see a doctor?

While the FDA believes a medical evaluation may not be necessary for people 18 years of age and older before buying hearing aids, if you experience any of the following conditions, you should consult a doctor, preferably an ear specialist:

  • Visible deformities of the ear since birth or from trauma
  • Fluid, pus, or blood coming out of the ear in the past six months
  • Pain or discomfort in the ear
  • History of excessive ear wax or suspicion that something is in the ear canal
  • Episodes of vertigo (a sensation of spinning or swaying) or severe dizziness
  • Sudden, quickly worsening, or fluctuating hearing loss in the past six months
  • Hearing loss or ringing (tinnitus) only in one ear or a noticeable difference in hearing between one ear and the other ear

Please see the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery's website for a complete list of "Red Flags - Warning of Ear Disease."

How do I report device problems to the FDA?

Tell the FDA about injuries, malfunctions, or other adverse events. To report an adverse event, you should submit the information to the FDA as soon as possible after the event. Adverse events may include ear canal or outer ear skin irritation, injury from the device (like cuts or scratches, or burns from an overheated battery), pieces of the device lodged in your ear canal, or sudden increased severity in hearing loss with device use. You can call FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 to request a reporting form or report online. Instructions and online forms are available at MedWatch.

Back to Top