Facts and myths about hear­ing aids

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MYTH: My hear­ing loss is not bad enough for hear­ing aids.

FACT: Ev­ery­one’s hear­ing loss and lis­ten­ing needs are dif­fer­ent. Hear­ing loss of­ten de­vel­ops slowly and sub­tly. A good rule is that if other peo­ple around you are com­plain­ing you can’t hear, you need to have your hear­ing tested. By work­ing with an au­di­ol­o­gist, you can de­ter­mine how much hear­ing aids will im­prove your hear­ing.

MYTH: I have one ear that’s down a lit­tle, but the other one’s okay, so I don’t need any hear­ing aids at all.

FACT: Ev­ery­thing is rel­a­tive. Nearly all pa­tients who be­lieve that they have one ‘good’ ear ac­tu­ally have two ‘bad’ ears. When one ear is slightly bet­ter than the other, we learn to favour that ear for the phone, group con­ver­sa­tions and so forth. It can give the il­lu­sion that ‘the bet­ter ear’ is nor­mal when it might not be. Most types of hear­ing loss af­fect both ears fairly equally and about 90% of pa­tients are in need of hear­ing aids for both ears.

MYTH: My friend has two hear­ing aids and hates them and said I should never even try them.

FACT: There are many fac­tors that come into play when fit­ting hear­ing aids and there­fore ev­ery­one’s ex­pe­ri­ence is dif­fer­ent. Ev­ery per­son has a dif­fer­ent hear­ing loss, dif­fer­ent size ear canals and dif­fer­ent hear­ing aid tech­nol­ogy. Hear­ing aid suc­cess de­pends on the ac­tual hear­ing aids. Per­haps your friend chose a ba­sic hear­ing aid that is not tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced enough to suit their needs. Per­haps they have not fol­lowed up with their au­di­ol­o­gist since the fit­ting and the hear­ing aids sim­ply need ad­just­ments. Please do not let an­other’s ex­pe­ri­ence af­fect your ac­tions.

MYTH: I’ve heard it doesn’t mat­ter where hear­ing aids are pur­chased as long as they’re cheap.

FACT: While buy­ing hear­ing aids through mail or­der or off the in­ter­net may be less ex­pen­sive, it is not ad­vis­able. By pur­chas­ing through these venues, you might be giv­ing up the qual­ity of care you will get by work­ing with an au­di­ol­o­gist. This in­cludes things such as a qual­i­fied hear­ing eval­u­a­tion, pro­fes­sional rec­om­men­da­tions as to the most ap­pro­pri­ate type of hear­ing aid, ex­pert in­struc­tion re­gard­ing proper hear­ing aid us­age, fol­low up care.

MYTH: I only have trou­ble hear­ing cer­tain sounds, so I don’t need hear­ing aids.

FACT: If you are miss­ing cer­tain sounds you may have some hear­ing loss and with to­day’s dig­i­tal hear­ing aids, au­di­ol­o­gists are able to pre­cisely pro­gramme the hear­ing aids to only pro­vide am­pli­fi­ca­tion at the pitches you need al­low­ing you to use the hear­ing you have re­main­ing and boost­ing where you need it the most. In­abil­ity to hear some sounds - like the sounds sh, s, th and t - sig­nif­i­cantly im­pacts your un­der­stand­ing of the over­all word caus­ing the dreaded, ‘Huh?’ ‘What?’ and em­bar­rass­ingly in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponses to ques­tions. ‘I only have trou­ble hear­ing women’s and chil­dren’s voices.’ That ac­counts for more than half the to­tal pop­u­la­tion. So, you’re say­ing you can’t hear half of the peo­ple talk­ing to you?

MYTH: Hear­ing aids are big, beige ba­nanas and ev­ery­one will see I’m wear­ing them.

FACT: Hear­ing aid tech­nol­ogy changes rapidly and 20 years ago hear­ing aids were big and more of­ten than not beige. To­day’s hear­ing aids are sig­nif­i­cantly smaller and dis­creet (some smaller than a 5p) and are crammed full of some in­cred­i­ble tech­nol­ogy to al­low the user to hear clearer speech, be less both­ered by back­ground noise and over­all en­joy a nat­u­ral lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Hear­ing aids now come in an in­fi­nite num­ber of colours to match hair and skin tones, and come in a va­ri­ety of styles that can be worn in­side or be­hind the ear. Karen Finch is the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and lead au­di­ol­o­gist at The Hear­ing Care Cen­tre. The multi-award win­ning, fam­ily-run com­pany has 25 cen­tres across Suf­folk and Nor­folk, with a new cen­tre in Nor­wich open­ing in September. For more in­for­ma­tion please call 01473 230330 or visit www.hear­ing­care­cen­tre.co.uk

au­di­ol­o­gist and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of The Hear­ing Care Cen­tre, dis­cusses some of the myths and mis­con­cep­tions sur­round­ing wear­ing hear­ing aids. Karen Finch,

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