We hear through our Ears.
Our ear is divided into three parts - External, Middle, and Inner ear.
Disease or Obstruction in any of these parts can lead to hearing impairment.
EXTERNAL EAR - Build up of wax or a severe External Ear infection can cause a mild hearing loss
MIDDLE EAR - The Middle Ear consists of the Tympanic Membrane (Eardrum) and the three Ossicles (middle ear bones) which transmit sound to the Inner ear. An eardrum perforation or damage/ obstruction at the level of the Ossicles can cause Conductive Deafness. This is usually treated by medicines or a surgery. During the surgery the eardrum perforation is repaired and any discontinuity of the Ossicles is reconstructed. Sometimes an Ossicle (Stapes) may be fixed, in which case it is replaced (Stapes Surgery).
INNER EAR - A pathology in the Inner ear or beyond leads to Sensory Neural deafness. This is usually not amenable to surgery and a Hearing Aid is prescribed. In case the deafness is profound and even a hearing aid is not effective, a Cochlear Implant Surgery is recommended.
Apart from a routine ENT examination, an Audiometry Test is done which charts out your hearing in various frequencies.
Depending upon your age and the degree of the hearing impairment the Audiologist selects a hearing aid that best suits you.
The extent of visibility of a hearing aid should not be the guiding criterion for its selection- the hearing aid that offers you the best quality of sound is the best hearing aid for you.
My recommendation is that the best time to use a hearing aid is when first you feel you need it.