Well i started losing my hearing about 3 years ago at the age of 27...progressed in a series of drops to basically profound in my left ear (now implanted) and severely hoh in my right. As I said above I dont think I ever realized how deaf I was until getting the implant....now instantly when I take it off I go back to what I used to be and the silence is deafening (as they say).
Another note...I dont notice any tinnitus now when I have the CI on...was constant before....now I just get bit of a white noise sensation when the implant comes off for the night.
I did try HAs for a while (a few months) last year but with the nature of my loss I didnt get much help. The left ear was initially fitted based on a hearing test which was before my last drop...I was just getting confusing sounds, nothing useful and upon retesting, the audi determined it wasnt worth attempting to aid that ear. Perhaps a stronger aid/ more expensive aid might have but she didnt really give me that option. I continued with one on the right side and did get a bit of amplification of ambient sounds, but no help with vioces which is what I was really aiming for. After a while of using it with mixed results, the audi suggested I try getting a consult for a CI as that might be the best solution to bring me back more useable hearing. She was also concerned that I hadnt really had a true diagnosis of why I had the loss (suposedly viral).
After alot of research I went the CI route and never looked back.
I would highly recommend trying the HAs first as it is certainly the least invasive method and depending on insurance coverage, generally the cheapest as well (unless your state/province pays for CIs as was my case). Most reputable audi's will provide a commitment free trial period after which you can get most of your money back if it doesnt help.