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