Guide to Hearing Aids
According to The Royal National Institute for Deaf People, there are in total 8,945,000 deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, 2,474,000 between 16 to 60. There are many reasons for loss of hearing, some are directly linked with medical conditions, some are caused due to our lifestyle choices and some are age related.
First Step Getting A Diagnosis:
If you suspect you might be suffering form a hearing loss, you should consider having a full hearing evaluation. Your first point of call is to visit your GP where a basic hearing test may be preformed or you might get referred to an Audiology department or hearing aid dispenser.
What are Hearing Aids:
For most people with mild to moderate hearing loss, a hearing aid will likely be recommended by your GP or hearing healthcare professional. There are over two million hard of hearing people in the UK who use hearing aids, and 1.4 million use them on a daily basis. Digital hearing aids are wearable micro-computers which can suppress background noise and are very lightweight.
What to look for?
Various aspects of hearing aids may be important to consider for each individual. Some people are looking for comfort or cosmetic appeal, some for technological advantage and others look for a low cost solution.
Types / Styles of hearing instruments
In recent years hearing healthcare professionals have seen large changes, not just in what hearing devices can do, but how they are worn. These changes can be attributed to a reduction in the size of components, increase durability and cosmetic concerns on the part of the wearer. Four main styles exist and suitability to each type will depend on factors such as degree of hearing loss and physical dexterity. Some designs may be easier to clean and maintain than others and it is important to consider these practical implications.
This device is housed in a small, usually curved case behind the ear and the sound is delivered into the ear canal via a custom-made ear mould or tubing system. Thin tubings are a relatively recent design change; and are referred to within the industry as 'Open fits' as they tend to fill less of the outer ear and ear anal than a custom size. BTE designs have become smaller and smaller over the years, and the introduction of so-called-receiver-in-the-canal products have contributed to this development. Receiver-in-the-canal means that the receiver or loudspeaker component sits within the ear canal, and is connected via a thin wiring (Usually enclosed in plastic) to the rest of the circuitry which sits in casing behind the ear.
ITEs are completely contained in a custom-made casing that fits into the pinna. They are easy to handle, give reasonable easy access to controls and they are sometimes visible when standing face to face with someone.
ITC aids are smaller, filling only the bottom half of the external ear and this makes them more appearling in a cosmetic sense; you cannot usually see very much of this hearing aid when you are face to face with someone.
Along with ITCs and ITEs, CICs are considered to be more modern and cosmetically appealing CICs fit so deep in the ear canal that they are practically invisible. The ear canals of some individuals might be too small to fit the device into.
When buying a hearing aid, it is important to shop around and research well. Prices and quality can vary, and so does the length of the guarantee it comes with. There are a couple of options on how to obtain a hearing aid, from getting a hearing aid through the NHS, to buying privately from your local high street hearing centre to the most recent option of buying online.