General Signs Of Hearing Loss
Early signs of hearing loss can include:
- difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say, especially in group situations
- asking people to repeat themselves
- listening to music or watching television with the volume higher than other people need
- difficulty hearing the telephone or doorbell
- finding it difficult to tell which direction noise is coming from
- regularly feeling tired or stressed, from having to concentrate while listening
In some cases, you may recognise signs of hearing loss in someone else before they notice it themselves. Research suggests it takes 10 years from the time someone notices they have hearing loss, before they do anything about it.
If you also hear a ringing, buzzing or whistling sound in your ears, this could be a sign of tinnitus, which is often associated with hearing loss.
Read more about losing your hearing
When To See Your Gp
See your GP if you’re having problems with your hearing, or your child is showing signs of hearing difficulty. If you lose your hearing suddenly, in one or both ears, you must see your GP as soon as possible.
Your GP can check for any problems and may refer you to an audiologist or an ENT surgeon for further tests.
You can also visit the Action on Hearing Loss website for an online hearing test.
Read more about diagnosing hearing loss
Batteries Repairs And Replacements
If you have an NHS hearing aid, you can get free batteries and repairs from the NHS hearing aid service who fitted your hearing aids.
Ask your audiologist about how to obtain batteries and request servicing and repairs.
You may need to come in for an appointment, or you may be able to send off for a battery or repair in the post.
Your local hearing aid service can also replace hearing aids that have been lost or damaged, although there may be a charge for this.
If you have a private hearing aid, contact your hearing aid provider if you need it repaired or replaced.
You may have to pay for this service if it’s not already included in your payment plan.
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How To Get A Hearing Aid On Thenhs
An appointment will have been madefor you with the hearing specialist who will take an impression of yourear for the ear mould. This means that the ear mould will fit exactlyto the shape of your ear. It will take a few weeks to make the ear mould.
Once this is ready you then returnfor the fitting. The specialist will adjust the hearing aid to suityour type of hearing loss and will explain how to use it. He/she willalso show you how to care for it.
You will have a follow up appointmentafter three months to check on your progress.
There are types of digital hearingaids which are NOT available on the NHS and these include:
- In the canal hearing aids
- Completely in the ear canalhearing aids
- In the ear hearing aids
- Over the ear hearing aids
- Receiver in the canal hearingaids
If youd prefer, you can choose tobuy a hearing aid from a private clinic or dispenser. If you do thenmake sure that they are registered with the Hearing Aid Council. YourGP will have details of local clinics as will the RNID website.
Causes Of Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is usually caused by a blockage, such as having too much ear wax, a build-up of fluid in the ear , or an ear infection.
Conductive hearing loss can also be caused by:
- a perforated eardrum where the eardrum is torn or has a hole in it
- otosclerosis an abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear that causes the inner hearing bone to be less mobile and less effective at transmitting sound
- damage to the hearing bones from injury, a collapsed ear drum or conditions such as cholesteatoma
- swelling around the eustachian tube caused by jaw surgery or radiotherapy for nasal and sinus cancer
- malformation of the ear
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
- something becoming trapped in the ear
Conductive hearing loss is usually temporary and can often be treated with medication or minor surgery.
Read more about treating hearing loss
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Different Types Of Hearing Aids Offered
Behind-the-ear hearing aidsA range of digital BTE aids are available to suit differing degrees of hearing loss.
Body-worn hearing aidsThese hearing aids are usually worn on the clothing and a cord links the device to an ear piece. Body-worn hearing aids may be suitable for patients with sight problems, or problems using very small switches or buttons.
CROS/BiCROS hearing aidsThese are for people with severe to profound unilateral or asymmetrical hearing loss. A hearing aid is fitted to the better ear with a separate microphone placed on the worst ear side. The microphone and hearing aid are wirelessly connected to each other. The purpose of this aid is to provide better sound perception on the worst ear side.
Advantages Of A Private Hearingaid
- Greater range of hearingaid styles than the NHS
- Private dispenser will stockthe very small hearing aids
- Short waiting times
- You can probably get a hearingaid after three weeks
If you opt to buy a hearing aid froma private dispenser then the costs can range from £300 up to £2,500.If you require two hearing aids then this will, of course be more expensive.But some dispensers may offer a discount if you buy two hearing aids.
Its a good idea to have a few dispensersto visit so that you can compare prices and services. Make sure thata private dispenser is registered with the HearingAid Council. This professionalaccreditation is a sign that they are reputable and suitable qualified.
Ask about the cost of a hearing aid,replacement hearing aid, repairs and hearing tests.
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Getting A Hearing Test On The Nhs
You can get a free hearing test on the NHS by going to see your GP.
An appointment with your GP will last around 10 minutes and will usually include:
- a discussion about your hearing
- an examination of your ears
If your GP believes your hearing loss is due to a build-up of earwax or an infection, theyll advise you on what to do next.
If there is not an obvious cause of your hearing problem, your GP should refer you to an NHS audiologist for a full hearing assessment.
NHS audiologists are usually based in hospitals, but are also in some well-known high street chains. Depending on where you live, you can choose where youd like to be seen.
If you see an NHS audiologist in a high street clinic you should not have to pay for the service, and the hearing aids available to you will be very similar to those in a hospital audiology department.
Your GP should help you to make an informed choice about which audiology service you visit.
Behind The Ear Hearing Aids:
BTE hearing aids are one of the most popular styles of hearing aids. They have two main parts – the plastic part with the electronics, goes behind the ear; the ear mould sits in the bowl of the ear. For the ear mould to fit, an impression of the individual ear is taken. Modern types of behind the ear hearing aids feature an open fit technology. They do not require an ear mould but instead, provide a tiny tube that goes into the entrance of the ear finishing in a speaker. This provides a clear and more natural sound and fit. However, these models are not always available from the NHS.
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How Can I Be Tested For Hearing Loss
If you’ve recently noticed problems with your hearing, the first step is to talk to your doctor and explain how these problems are affecting your day to day life.
Your doctor can carry out some basic tests to check for temporary, treatable ear problems, such as a build-up of ear wax or an ear infection. Your doctor will have a look into your ears using a medical instrument with a light at one end.
If there is no obvious cause of hearing loss, your doctor can refer you for a hearing assessment with an audiologist or an ear nose and throat specialist. They will look into your ears and test your hearing to see how well you can detect different levels of sound. This assessment will help find the cause of your hearing loss and what treatments would work best.
Your hearing assessment will indicate if a hearing aid would help you and which type would work best for you.
Benefits Of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids will not make your hearing perfect, but they make sounds louder and clearer, reducing the impact hearing loss has on your life.
Hearing aids can:
- help you hear everyday sounds such as the doorbell and phone
- improve your ability to hear speech
- make you feel more confident when talking to people and make it easier for you to follow conversations in different environments
- help you to enjoy listening to music and the TV, at a volume that’s comfortable for those around you
But hearing aids only help if you still have some hearing left, so do not put off getting help if your hearing is getting worse.
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Purchasing Hearing Aids Privately
COVID-19 Service updates
Details on the Audiology service disruption, due to COVID-19, can be found on our front Audiology Service page.
NHS Audiology Hearing Care provides a free, high quality digital hearing aid service. However, if you would like to purchase more advanced technology and/or alternative fitting styles or accessories, you can now be seen by one of our highly qualified and experienced NHS Audiologists to purchase your choice of devices.
You will be seen by an NHS qualified Audiologist, who is also registered as a hearing aid dispenser. Our Audiologists have a wealth of experience and will assess your hearing and hearing needs to a high standard you can trust our Audiologists to advise you only of products that would be suitable for your needs allowing you to choose your preferred option.
During your initial appointment, your Audiologist will advise you about the various styles of hearing aids and accessories available from a selection of manufactures. This enables you to choose your preferred option from a wide range of products with the help of expert guidance.
Your Audiologist will then arrange the fitting of the device you have chosen within days of your initial appointment and fit them in line with best practice and national guidelines.
We can provide you with a hearing package that includes a three year guarantee and three years worth of batteries. You can be assured that there are no further charges for aftercare.
When Is A Hearing Aid Unsuitable
Hearing aids could be unsuitable when other medical treatment options are available or required, such as surgery. The decision is generally made with an audiologist and ENT consultation. Hearing aids might also be unsuitable when the benefits of conventional hearing aids are limited, for example if a patient has:
- conductive hearing loss that fluctuates between normal and mild hearing loss within a relatively short period of time
- infected or discharging ears preventing the wearing of a closely fitting earmould
- profound hearing losses
- neural components in hearing loss as hearing aids are designed to compensate for sensory impairment
Patients individual communication needs and psychosocial aspects are of paramount importance when deciding whether to fit hearing aids or not.
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In The Ear Hearing Aids
In the ear hearing aids fill the area just outside the opening of your ear.
They cannot be seen from behind, unlike BTE or RITE hearing aids, but they are visible from the side.
ITE hearing aids are suitable for most people with hearing loss, although they can be trickier to use than BTE or RITE hearing aids.
How Do You Choose The Right Hearing Aid
There are so many different hearing aid systems that you should be confident that there are hearing aids which are right for you. However, there are a lot of things to be considered, so building a good relationship with your audiologist is important. Theyll be able to recommend hearing aids that suit your hearing loss and lifestyle needs.
Not all providers can offer you every type of hearing aid. If you use a NHS service, youll usually be offered behind the ear aids. Theyll be loaned to you for free, but will still be the property of the NHS. If you see a private audiologist, you can choose from a bigger range of fitting styles, sizes and technical features.
Some providers may have arrangements with particular manufacturers, but its unusual for a private audiologist to provide only one companys hearing aids. Most private providers offer a choice based on your personal needs and preferences
Body Worn Hearing Aids
Body worn hearing aids are made up of a small box connected to earphones.
The box can be clipped to your clothes or put inside a pocket.
This type of hearing aid may be best if you have severe hearing loss and need a powerful hearing aid, or if you find the controls on smaller hearing aids tricky to use.
Feel Less Like A Number
We know that independent audiologists, like us, were rated 86% this year from patients in regard to the service and hearing aids purchased. We also know, from experience, that patients feel less like a number and more valued as an individual when they opt for private care.
Every hearing loss is different
Your hearing loss is just as unique as you and deserves the right treatment with the right hearing aid provider. However, we understand that each and every person is different and what might suit someone might not be right for the next. There are so many factors when considering private or NHS hearing aids – you just have to weigh up what’s the most important to you in regards to your hearing. But what are the pros and cons to both private and NHS hearing aids?
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If You Are Eligible The First Step Is To Visit Your Gp And Ask Them For A Referral Into The Service
In the areas listed below, a GP referral is not required, and people are able to self-refer at a Specsavers store of their choice. If you live in one of these areas, visit your nearest Specsavers store for more information.
- North Hampshire
Please note that additional variations set by the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups around eligibility for the service can apply.
Access to the service and fitting of hearing aids following referral will depend on local NHS requirements and the outcome of the initial clinical assessment.
The Benefit Of Wearing Two Hearing Aids
Hearing aids worn in both ears can offer additional benefits when the degree of impairment is equivalent in both ears. When two hearing aids are worn:
- sound can be more natural and clear
- a lower volume setting may be used
- listening in noise may be less difficult
- it may be easier to localise sounds
- gives a sense of hearing balance.
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How Do I Receive The Responses From The Practice
On some services, such as Ask the Practice a question and Ask the Doctor a question once the Practice has processed your request they will send you a response. This response will be sent to the email address that you have given in the form.
For security purposes the email will ask that you verify your identification. Once you have completed this the message from the surgery will be shown for you to read.
Cons Of Nhs Hearing Aids
- You may not get much choice in the type of hearing aid you end up with – its likely to be a behind-the-ear model with earmould, or open-fit. Some areas issue receiver-in-the-ear/canal hearing aids too. For more information, see our guide to hearing aid types.
- There may be a charge if you lose a hearing aid – check with the audiologist.
- While in some areas you’ll be seen quite quickly, the wait between your GP referral and treatment may be shorter if you go privately.
- Your local hospital may offer a drop-in clinic for aftercare/repair, but you’ll usually have to wait to be seen.
If you’re planning to buy hearing aids privately, make sure you know what you’re getting in the price. We compare what each company really offers in its hearing aid prices, and what you can expect to pay for the latest models.
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How Much Will It Cost
Including the above mentioned three year package of care, two hearing aids in the Behind The Ear or In The Ear range, will start at £3000.
Following the initial assessment appointment with one of our Audiologists, you will need to pay for the package you have chosen. Alternatively, if you decide not to proceed with a package of care at this time, you will need to pay £120* to cover the cost of the initial assessment.
Bone Conduction Hearing Aids
Bone conduction hearing aids are recommended for people with conductive or mixed hearing loss who can’t wear a more conventional type of hearing aid. Bone conduction hearing aids vibrate in response to the sounds going into the microphone.
They can also sometimes help people with no hearing in one ear and normal or mild hearing loss in the other ear.
The part of the hearing aid that vibrates is held against the bone behind the ear by a headband. The vibrations pass through the mastoid bone to the cochlea and are converted into sound in the usual way. They can be very effective, but can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods.
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Are There Different Types Of Hearing Aid
Hearing aids differ in shape, size and price. With modern technology, aids are getting smaller and more discreet some aids fit entirely inside the ear. Smaller aids are also easy to insert in your ear, but they can be fiddly to adjust because of the very small controls.
Some aids have additional features to improve hearing. For example, some digital aids can clear unwanted background noise. Ask the hearing aid dispenser about any additional benefits or features of the aids available.
Your audiologist should advise which model should suit you. Ask if you can trial your hearing aid for a few weeks to make sure its comfortable and helpful. Make sure you can confidently put it on, take it off, change the volume level and change the batteries.
When you use a hearing aid for the first time, everyday sounds may seem quite loud. It could take you a couple of months to get used to hearing sounds with your hearing aid. If at any stage the sound is uncomfortable and you cant wear the hearing aids, it is best to return to your audiologist for advice.
Why Are Hearing Aids So Expensive
Hearing aids are delicate pieces of highly advanced technology with carefully designed chips to help you hear. Up-to-date features can include bluetooth, telephone compatibility, weather protection, and directional speech enhancements. All this takes hard work from many experts to develop the tiny invisible hearing aids that we have today.
The other expense associated with hearing aids is in the fitting and after-care. A hearing aid may require multiple appointments, first to assess the hearing problem and then to fit the hearing aid. At HearingDirect we have minimised all the usual overheads as much as possible to bring you the most affordable high-quality hearing aids on the market. Our hearing aids are ‘open-fit’ which means that the flexible domes will support all shapes of ear and don’t require fitting. Our audiologist Joan and her team can help with most problems over the phone and we offer a repair service by post. All this brings our prices down to amongst the cheapest.
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The Cost Of Nhs Hearing Care Compared To The Hearing Care Partnership
The factor that most people consider when deciding which hearing care provider to opt for is the cost of the treatment. NHS hearing care is completely free including follow-up appointments and aftercare, however the number of services and solutions are limited.
At The Hearing Care Partnership, your Full Hearing Assessment is FREE, which includes a comprehensive evaluation of your hearing and speech and an in-depth discussion regarding your specific and personal hearing and lifestyle requirements.
We also provide FREE follow-up appointments and unlimited aftercare, allowing you to rest in the knowledge that youll be looked after every step of the way. Alongside our advanced diagnostic hearing assessment, we provide FREE Tinnitus Consultations and home visit appointments at no extra cost. At The Hearing Care Partnership you will always be offered the highest quality individual patient care across all of our services.
Cons Of Private Hearing Aids
- People are generally put off by the price of hearing aids, but in reality, you will be advised on all the hearing aids available that will suit you the most – that doesn’t mean you’ll need the most expensive device.
- You will have to pay for your hearing batteries unless the hearing aids you chose are rechargeable models.
- Your hearing aid will need replacing, on average, at least every four years – so it is more than a one-off investment.
Please remember our PROS and CONS for private hearing healthcare are based around our own ethos and services.
Not all private audiologists will offer home visits either for free or at all. Check with your provider at your first point of call.
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Benefits Of Nhs Hearing Aids
So why would you opt for NHS hearing aids over a private clinic? Well, the most obvious reason is financial. Having the opportunity to restore your hearing ability without having to spend four figures is a big plus.
Theyre also not cheaply made. When you see a free product, the first inclination is to think that its low quality anything but premium. But NHS hearing aids are up to a solid standard, and while they dont have the biggest range of selectable hearing aids, youll still have some choice in regard to what youll be getting.
Adjusting To New Hearing Aids
It can take up to three months to get used to new hearing aids. What you experience will depend on your hearing loss, your lifestyle needs and how much you wear your hearing aids.
Your brain will begin to register sounds that it has not heard well for some time. So you might feel tired by listening or overwhelmed by new noises. But, as you carry on using your new hearing aids, your brain learns to recognise the new sounds and they become more acceptable. Its important to keep going and, if you feel you need it, to ask for support from your audiologist as its part of their role to provide ths.
You should talk about what to expect with your audiologist when hearing aids for you are first discussed. Theyll be able give you advice on the best techniques for getting used to your hearing aids.
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Receiver In The Ear Hearing Aids
Receiver in the ear hearing aids are similar to BTE hearing aids.
The main difference is that with RITE hearing aids, the part of the hearing aid that sits behind the ear is smaller and is connected by a thin wire to a speaker placed inside the opening of the ear.
RITE hearing aids are less visible than BTE hearing aids and are suitable for most people with hearing loss, but they can be more fiddly to use than BTE hearing aids.