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Guide

This hearing aid consumer guide will help you to work together with your local audiologist near you. They are registered professionals who are dedicated to helping you hear better, so you can carry on enjoying life to the fullest.

They take immense pride in getting to the bottom of your hearing needs and offering you effective solutions in a wide selection of hearing aid brands, shell styles and technologies.

You are more than welcome to enquire today for a free hearing check-up.

This is the first, and often most difficult step in overcoming a hearing problem. When you visit, you will be welcomed by friendly, knowledgeable staff who can help with all types of clinical hearing conditions. They are more than happy to answer any questions you may have with no pressure or obligation to buy.

All clinics are fully equipped with the best hearing evaluation technology, meaning that you can have a personal prescription for a hearing aid system that is custom-made to your hearing loss.

This guide will help you to understand what hearing aid options are out there and what might suit you by categorising them into the different levels of technology and different price ranges.

If you are concerned about your hearing, it is always best to seek the professional and impartial advice of our hearing aid audiologists.

What Can I Expect From A Hearing Aid?

Commonly Asked Questions

How Do Damaged Hair Cells Affect Hearing?

Styles of Hearing Aid Shells

Digital Hearing Aids – Technology

Seven Reasons Why You Hear Better With Two Ears

What Can I Expect From A Hearing Aid?

If your hearing loss has progressed so much that it means you require hearing aids, it is important to know that success means managing your expectations. Regardless of the brand of hearing aid or level of technology, hearing aids will never be able to replace your normal hearing in all listening situations.

Understanding this will mean that you can avoid being frustrated and dissatisfied with your hearing aids if they are not what you were expecting. If you have realistic expectations, you will be able to enjoy the improvements that hearing aids can provide. Here are some realistic expectations for your new hearing aids:

  • The extent to which a hearing aid can restore hearing is based upon the severity and duration of your hearing loss.
  • The more severe your hearing loss is, the larger the hearing aid will be. This is because a larger amplifier and components are needed.
  • Certain noisy conditions like crowded social gatherings are situations where people with ‘normal hearing’ would struggle. As a person’s hearing naturally deteriorates, situations like these become even more difficult to hear.
  • Your audiologist’s primary goal is to provide an appropriate hearing aid that delivers a natural volume throughout your hearing range without being too loud or quiet.
  • In difficult listening situations, it is normal for people to rely on lip-reading, facial cues and increase their focus on the speaker. These are listening skills that even people with ‘normal hearing’ use, but are even more important for hearing aid users.
  • In quiet environments, hearing aids can perform equal to normal hearing, but as the difficulty of the hearing environment increases, the less a hearing aid user will be able to hear when compared to normal hearing.
  • Properly programmed hearing aids will help you to hear more of the normal sounds you may have been missing out on, like the voices of friends, family or clients or may have even forgotten about everyday noises like the hum of a refrigerator or the sound of a car engine.
  • Hearing aids should be able to keep loud sounds from being uncomfortable.
  • Hearing aids could help you to hear speech more clearly in some noisy situations, depending on the severity of your hearing loss.
  • You need to allow yourself some time to adjust to your new hearing aids and to learn now to get the most out of them. You should also expect to visit your audiologist to have quality adjustments too.
  • Hearing aids will not restore your normal hearing.
  • Despite some advertising claims, hearing aids are not capable of filtering out background noise, but some hearing aids have the technology to reduce the volume of background noise, leaving the speech in loud noises more prominent.
  • Hearing aids should allow you to be able to hear speech more clearly, with much less effort in various different environments.
  • Hearing aids should mean that your hearing loss is less obvious to other people.
  • Your audiologist has the same goal as you: find a way to help you achieve the best possible hearing you can.

You may need a hearing aid if:
you get frustrated with your hearing when talking to your family and friends
people often have to repeat themselves to you
you have ever been embarrassed by your hearing difficulties
you have the volume of the television turned up louder than normal
you feel like your social life has been affected by your hearing difficulties
you don’t attend your normal social activities, like religious services or group activities, because of your hearing difficulties
you find it difficult to hear and understand someone who is whispering
you feel that you are impaired by your hearing problem
you have a ringing or intrusive sound in your ears (tinnitus) that does not go away

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Commonly Asked Questions

Q: What causes hearing loss?
A: Most hearing losses are because of ageing. Other causes of hearing loss include: loud noise exposure, certain illnesses and disease, certain medications and for some people it may be hereditary. The most common type of hearing loss is ‘nerve deafness’, which occurs when the inner ear (cochlea) and auditory nerves stop transmitting signals to the brain properly.
Q: How common is hearing loss?
A: In the UK, 1 in 6 adults have a hearing loss. Of these people, 8 million are aged 65 or older.
Q: How does hearing loss affect you?
A: An individual’s hearing loss is always unique to them, but many people share similar experiences caused by their hearing loss. Many people with a hearing loss feel very isolated from their surroundings, they find it difficult to meet new people or be in new environments, they often have feelings of being incompetent or insecure.
Q: What should I do if I or a loved one has a hearing loss?
A: The first step for anyone who may have a hearing loss is to have it professionally assessed. This assessment will determine the type and severity of your hearing loss. Once the hearing loss has been identified the audiologist can recommend suitable treatment or hearing aid solutions.
Q: How do hearing aids work?
A: Hearing aids bridge the gap experienced through a hearing loss by receiving sounds and amplifying them. Although there are many different types of hearing aids, most have the same four components:
Microphone: receives sounds and transforms them into electrical pulses
Amplifier: making the electrical pulses stronger
Receiver/speaker: translates the strong pulses into recognisable, louder sounds
Battery: power source for the hearing aid
Your audiologist will be able to help you find the style, fit and technology to suit your hearing loss, budget and lifestyle.
Q: What about the negative things I have heard about hearing aids?
A: It is true that many people do have concerns regarding hearing aids, such as:
“My own voice sounds strange”
Since hearing aids amplify sounds (your voice being one of them) it may take a while to get used to this sensation. If it really bothers you, you can speak to your audiologist who will address the problem.
“There are whistling and feedback noises”
There are lots of common causes for whistling or feedback noises in hearing aids, most of which are easily solved. One of the most common causes for this problem is that the hearing aid fits too loosely, this allows sound that has been amplified to be picked up again through the microphone. Feedback noises can also be picked up if you are next to a surface that reflects sound, like a solid wall. Another common cause for unwanted feedback is that the hearing aid is turned up too loudly. Consistent problems with feedback or whistling sounds should be checked upon by your audiologist.
“I can feel pressure in my ear”
Excess air can become trapped between your hearing aid and your eardrum, giving you the feeling of pressure. You should speak to your audiologist if you have this problem.
Q: Will the amplified sounds of my hearing aid damage my hearing further?
A: Your hearing aid will always be pre-set to a safe level of amplification.
Q: What sort of changes and adaptations should I expect when wearing hearing aids?
A: The first thing to wrap your head around is that hearing aids will not fully restore your hearing. Hearing aids can enhance sounds allowing you to hear better. Most hearing loss happens gradually over time, so normal everyday sounds may surprise you when you wear hearing aids. It is important to give your brain time to re-educate itself and develop ‘selective-listening’, where it does not focus on these noises.
Patience is also a huge part of successful hearing aid rehabilitation. Be patient with yourself and know that it does take time to be able to get used to using hearing aids. Family and friends can also be really helpful. Try to encourage your friends and family to speak to you in their normal voice and not to over emphasise their lip movements to see how well you can understand them.
Q: Why are some hearing aids the same style but different prices?
A: Although some hearing aid shells look alike, it is the circuit inside that makes the difference, from the lowest priced ‘entry level’ to ‘basic’, ‘advanced’ and the most expensive ‘premium’, each technology level will become more expensive as the performance improves.
Q: What is the best hearing aid brand?
A: There are approximately 25 hearing aid brands worldwide, including Oticon, Phonak, GN ReSound, Starkey and Widex. To determine which hearing aid brand is best for you, would depend on the results of your audiogram and hearing test, your lifestyle, budget and cosmetic needs. Your audiologist will help you discover which hearing aid brand is best for you.

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How Do Damaged Hair Cells Affect Hearing?

Damaged hair cells (stereocilia) in the cochlea are not able to send complete signals to the brain. Incomplete signals mean that consonants are not able to be heard in speech. For example: the word “bathroom” may sound like “a–oo”.

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Styles of Hearing Aid Shells

 

BTE/Behind-the-Ear

For behind-the-ear hearing aids, the receiver, microphone and amplifier are all contained in a shell that sits behind the ear with a clear plastic tube connecting it to the earpiece that sits in the ear. Since BTE hearing aids have a larger shell size so are able to hold more circuitry than other styles of hearing aids. BTE hearing aids can be fitted for most hearing losses and are fairly durable too.

ITE/In-the-Ear

For in-the-ear hearing aids, all the circuitry is built into a custom earmold. This earmold fills most of the visible portion of the ear but is still quite discreet. ITE hearing aids can be fitted for mild to moderately severe hearing losses and are also great for people with limited dexterity due to their size and easy controls.

ITC/In-the-Canal

For in-the-canal hearing aids, similar to ITE hearing aids, the circuitry is built into a custom earmold. ITC hearing aids are much smaller than ITEs and are only partially visible. ITC hearing aids can be fitted for moderately severe hearing losses.

CIC/Completely-in-Canal

For completely-in-canal hearing aids, all the circuitry is built into a small shell that sits in the ear canal. Cosmetically this is appealing for people as you can rarely notice CIC hearing aids. CIC hearing aids are not suitable for people with mild to moderate hearing losses.

Mini BTE

Mini BTE hearing aids are similar to regular BTE hearing aids, but are much smaller in size.

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Digital Hearing Aids – Technology

Fully digital hearing aids process sound mathematically. Instead of traditional electronic components, digital hearing aids have millions of electrical parts, all micro-manufactured into a small chip. The chip continuously processes incoming sound by:

  • turning the sound into an electrical signal through the microphone
  • filtering out inaudible frequencies
  • the electrical signal is converted from analogue to a digital/numerical signal, so it can be manipulated by the internal computer chip
  • this chip performs the tasks of the settings it is programmed for, for example: filtering noise reduction, compensating loudness, and cancelling feedback
  • this new digital signal is converted back into a sound for the user to be able to hear

The Most Important Questions To Ask About Digital Hearing Aids:

  1. How many channels does it have? How many do I need?
  2. Do they have multiple or directional microphones for hearing in noise?
  3. How many memories does it have? How many different listening situations do I encounter in my day-to-day life?
  4. What kind of Automatic Signal Processing does it have? Which would suit my lifestyle best?
  5. Is it FM compatible? Would I benefit from hearing aids being FM compatible?
  6. Does it have a remote control? Would I benefit from the use of a remote control?

User Benefits of Digital Hearing Aids

  • Automatic Signal Processing circuits biome available to patients (this kind of circuitry is no available to non-programmable hearing aids)
  • The ability to achieve different sound qualities within a single hearing aid due to multiple circuit options
    Automatically provides more volume to higher, hard to hear frequencies and less volume to more intense, low frequencies
  • The ability to retain the patient’s entire audiometric file and preferred listening programs for each sound environment
  • If your hearing loss changes, you can adjust the prescription on the hearing aid


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Seven Reasons Why You Hear Better With Two Ears

The human hearing mechanism is one of the most stereophonic marvels known to man. ‘Binaural’ hearing (translating ‘bi’ for two and ‘aural’ for ears) has amazing accuracy and versatility, providing you with depth perception, space perception and balance.

Unbeknown to some, hearing does not happen in your ears, it happens in your brain. The brian requires reliable information gathered by the ears in order to decipher sounds in the environment. Studies show that using just one hearing aid reduces your hearing by 50%, as well as reducing your ability to perceive depth and space. If you have been prescribed two hearing aids, here’s why you should wear both of them:

  • Less power is needed for two hearing aids. If your ears are working together, you won’t need as much volume to be able to hear comfortably. Greater efficiency and clarity comes with two hearing aids, when compared to using just one. Reduced volume settings also saves your hearing from further damage caused by excessive amplification.
  • Stereo listening gives you depth perception. Think of listening to music in stereo, there is much more depth than mono, which can sound quite shallow, flat and unnatural. The brain has the ability to hear in stereo, but to do so it needs to receive sound from both ears. Listening in stereo makes sounds seem more natural and clear.
  • You are able to detect sound from any direction. When listening through one ear, it is very difficult to hear where a sound is coming from. Binaural hearing gives you the ability to know sound direction and the ability to locate sounds horizontally, vertically and 360 degrees in all directions.
  • Socially, using both ears is more beneficial. If you are only paying attention to the people speaking to you on your aided side, you aren’t paying attention to those people on your unaided side. In business and social situations, you should be giving yourself the best opportunity to join in on conversations.
  • Both sides of the brain work in harmony with both ears to give you a complete sound picture. Similar to using both your eyes. If the two halves of the brain aren’t sharing auditory signals, stimulated by sound detection from both ears, a person’s auditory intelligence is significantly reduced. Binaural hearing aids transmit signals to both sides of the brain, increasing auditory intelligence.
  • Voice discrimination in noise is almost impossible with only one-sided hearing. Being able to tell the difference between many noises at once is difficult for a person with ‘normal’ hearing, but binaural hearing aids are the best advantage to have for hearing in noise.
  • Using both hearing aids will give you a better quality of sound, which is therefore a better quality of life. Most hearing aid users who have experienced using just one hearing aid and then both hearing aids report that wearing two hearing aids is the only way to properly appreciate and enjoy the world we live in.

 

 

Call  0808 1966100 To Book Your Appointment Today.