Do I really need a hearing system?
Hearing loss affects most of us at some stage in our lifetime. Sometimes there will be a simple cause that can be easily rectified, such as a build up of wax. A quick visit to your GP or hearing aid audiologist may be all you need to remedy the matter. However, your hearing loss could be due to a number of reasons and it may well be that the most effective solution is a professionally prescribed hearing system.
The most important point is that you, or more likely your partner or family have concerns regarding your hearing then it is advisable to seek professional advice (before the situation deteriorates).
It is possible that you have a hearing loss if you experience any of the following:
- Others complain that you have the TV or radio up too loud.
- People appear to mumble to you or you cant clearly hear every word that is being said-particularly when there is background noise, in crowds or when voices are high pitched (eg Children)
- You ask people to repeat themselves.
- You have difficulty at distance or for meetings, in church or anywhere where there are Tannoy systems.
- You are not sure where sounds are coming from.
- It is difficult to hear the telephone ring and to understand conversation easily when trying to use the phone.
When can a hearing aid help?
Fine tuning surrounding noises and sounds. Not quite catching what someone said to you from across the room is a very common complaint and can be particularly frustrating at social events. The good news is that the latest digital hearing aids are individually programmed for you to pick out the sounds you want to hear and screen out the ‘hum’ of background noises automatically.
Overcoming inner ear deafness
This is also called nerve deafness and the loss is usually worse for higher pitched tones such as children and some women’s voices. This type of problem is very common and often develops as we get older. Digital hearing aids have made a significant contribution to helping this type of loss as they can be precisely programmed to focus on the sounds you want to hear.
Relieving the effect of Tinnitus (noises in the ears)
Tinnitus is a very common problem and most people who suffer have at least a mild hearing loss. In such circumstances the prescription of a digital hearing aid can often help.
When you have an ear infection.
If you have a middle ear infection you may have been advised not to wear anything in your ear. Fortunately, these days there are alternative devices which may help, but your GP would need to see you first.
As you get older
Many people of all ages suffer in silence with their hearing loss perhaps because they would rather not admit it or they are unsure as to the correct next step to take. This is a great pity as the new world of hearing aids means the ability to regain clearer, sharper hearing and lead happier more fulfilled lives is now available to most people. Further more, in general, it is not advisable to delay using a hearing system until loss is severe, as this may extend the adjustment period after fitting.
How do I get a free aid on the NHS?
If a hearing loss is confirmed your GP may refer you to your local ENT consultant who will prescribe a basic model that fits behind the ear. However, do be prepared to wait as there are lengthy delays at each stage of the process. Ultimately you will be provided with an NHS aid on free permanent loan. Alternatively, you can have your hearing assessed by a private hearing aid dispenser. This route eliminates any waiting and can be in the comfort of your own home if you wish. You will also have a wide choice of hearing aids including the very latest technology in the most discreet styles.
What is the difference between different types of systems?
The most informed technical bodies today recommend digital hearing aids. Already thousands of previous users of analogue hearing systems have converted to a digital aid and found such great improvements in understanding speech in difficult listening situations where there is a lot of noise- such as the theatre, or in group conversations and family gatherings. The ability of your hearing aid dispenser to fine tune a digital hearing aid to your precise needs far exceeds such capability with an analogue hearing aid and you can be given sound quality similar to that of a CD. The latest digital technology represents a major advance for most people as the function is completely automatic and there is no need for any fiddly controls.
What types of models are available?
With in the range of analogue and digital hearing aids available privately there are a number of different types to suit individual needs and pockets.
These include the following:
CIC (Completely in the canal)
The smallest custom aid which is made to fit right down inside the ear canal and is very hard to see.
ITE (in the ear)
There are a range of models all custom made for you that can fit either in the ear or in the bowl of the ear.
BTE (behind the ear)
The larger hearing aids given out by the NHS. They consist of a box behind the ear, a plastic ear mould and a tube connecting the two together.
RITE (Receiver in canal)
Often called an ‘Open fit’ aid. It is a small unit that sits on the ear with a soft ‘dome’ that goes in the ear connected by a wire.
Your hearing aid dispenser will, after testing, advise on the most suitable type for your individual hearing loss.