Hearing Loss: Everything You Need To Know

Written by the Nano Hearing Aids Team
Reviewed for Accuracy by Lindsay Roberts, AuD.

Lindsay Roberts
Hearing Loss: Everything You Need To Know

If you've ever found yourself asking people to repeat themselves, turning up the TV volume higher than usual, or feeling a bit isolated in noisy environments because it's hard to keep up with conversations, you're not alone. Hearing loss can make daily interactions frustrating and sometimes lead to misunderstandings that could have been easily avoided.

It's a condition that affects millions of people, yet it's often surrounded by misconceptions and overlooked signs. In this blog post, we'll share the different types of hearing loss, explore common causes and symptoms, and discuss how over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids could potentially help improve your hearing loss.

What are the Types of Hearing Loss?

There are three main types of hearing loss, which can be categorized as either sensorineural, conductive, or mixed.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This occurs when the inner ear or auditory nerve is damaged. It can be caused by aging, genetics, noise exposure, medications, or medical conditions, and is often permanent.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when there are issues in the middle ear or outer ear that block sound waves from traveling to the inner ear. This can be caused by ear infections, earwax buildup, structural issues within the ear, or ear canal obstructions.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. It occurs when there is both inner ear/nerve damage and issues in the outer or middle ear.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can affect any person at any age in life. Many factors can contribute to hearing loss, some of which are genetic, while others are acquired:

  • Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)
  • Noise-induced hearing loss (from headphones or working at loud jobs, such as construction)
  • Earwax blockage
  • Ear infection
  • Genetics
  • Head injury or trauma
  • Ototoxic medications (drugs that damage hearing)
  • Chronic diseases (such as diabetes or hypertension)
  • Meniere's disease
  • Tumors (acoustic neuroma)
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Malformation of the inner ear
  • Viral or bacterial infections (such as meningitis)
  • Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Ear injuries or perforated eardrum
  • Ear canal obstructions (such as foreign objects)
  • Radiation therapy to the head or neck
  • Neurological conditions (such as multiple sclerosis)
potential signs of hearing loss
What are the Symptoms of Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss symptoms can be considered mild to moderate or severe. If you aren't sure whether or not your symptoms are mild or severe, you should consider scheduling an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional.

You might have perceived mild to moderate hearing loss if you experience any of the below:
  • Trouble hearing conversations in noisy places and with a lot of background noise or loud sounds
  • Feeling tired from listening
  • Finding it difficult to follow conversations and hear people in group settings
  • Difficulty hearing someone on the phone
  • Needing to turn up the volume on the TV or radio, even if others say that it's loud

If you experience the above symptoms and are 18 years old or older, you might benefit from OTC hearing aids. They don't require a prescription, a hearing test, or a visit to a hearing healthcare professional.

You might have severe hearing loss if you have any of the below symptoms:
  • Difficulty hearing conversations
  • Unable to hear sounds or finding it very difficult to hear sounds, including loud noises (even in quiet environments)
  • You might find yourself reading lips as a result of your hearing loss

If you think you might have severe/profound hearing loss, you should consider scheduling a consultation with a hearing healthcare professional. They can conduct various hearing tests to determine the severity of your hearing loss, its causes, and any next steps for treatment, which could include prescription hearing aids or cochlear implants.

potential signs of hearing loss
OTC Hearing Aids: Which Ones Are The Best?

When purchasing OTC hearing aids, there are a few key features you should make sure the hearing aids have to ensure they meet your specific hearing needs and offer the best possible experience:



One of the most significant benefits of OTC hearing aids is they reduce financial barriers that are commonly associated with prescription hearing aids. Many OTC hearing aids are priced online at $600 or less.

Nearly Invisible

nearly visible

Your OTC hearing aids should have a nearly invisible, discreet design, making them far less noticeable compared to traditional hearing aids. Two popular designs include Behind-the-Ear (BTE) OTC hearing aids, which sit behind the ear, and Completely-in-Canal (CIC) OTC hearing aids.

FDA Registered, Class I

FDA registered

OTC hearing aids that are FDA Registered, Class I means they are real hearing aids, are considered medical device, and are generally safe to use when compared to higher-classified hearing aid devices. Other classifications might contain risks such as excessive amplification of sound or the development of tinnitus (a ringing sensation in the ears). FDA Registered, Class I OTC hearing aids provide you with an overall safer experience since there is less risk of them harming your ears.

Background Noise Reduction Technology


Background noise reduction technology reduces background noise when you're wearing hearing aids, making it possible for you to hear sounds more clearly.

Adjustable Volume

adjustable volume

The hearing aids you choose should have several volume settings, so that you can always select the appropriate volume for your hearing needs.

Customizable Dome Sizes

customizable ear tips

Hearing aids are not a one-size-fits-all. It's important to have multiple dome sizes to choose from so that you can select a fit that is comfortable for your ears.



OTC hearing aids that use a portable charging base (rather than batteries) make them very convenient. At the end of each day, simply place the hearing aids on their charging dock and leave them to charge overnight. You should be able to get 12 hours of hearing per charge.

Warranty and Protection Plan Options


Hearing aids that come with a protection plan or warranty option provide you with financial protection, extended coverage, and enhanced support. They can also cover accidental damage and loss/theft.

OTC Hearing Aids For Perceived Mild To Moderate Hearing Loss

Many people with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss have found it beneficial to wear hearing aids that are OTC, as they can be a great solution for improving hearing. These FDA-regulated devices don't need a prescription, hearing exam, or doctor's appointment. You can try them in the comfort of your home, and you can adjust the volume to suit your specific needs. With Nano OTC hearing aids, you simply pick the best dome size for your ears, turn them on, and put them in. Keep in mind it might take several days or weeks for your ears and brain to get used to them, which is why Nano OTC Hearing Aids comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee and free 24/7 lifetime support.

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