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CHAPTER 1: GENERAL INFORMATION

 

This page covers: Hearing Aids

Section 5 - Is it worth getting a hearing aid?

Section 6 - One hearing aid or two hearing aids?

Section 7 - Hopes and expectations about hearing aids

Section 8 - On your first or follow up visits to the hospital

Click here to go to these sections on another page:

Section 9 -  Hearing aids and hearing aid moulds

Section 10 - Digital and analogue hearing aids

Section 11 - General tips on using hearing aids and listening

Click on the links in the left hand column to see the other sections

Section 5 - Is it worth getting a hearing aid?

A hearing aid that works well and fits the person’s hearing loss can be very helpful.

If you have a hearing loss and if the hospital offers you a hearing aid then say yes. If your hearing cannot be restored to normal by either surgical or medical means then accept the offer of a hearing aid or hearing aids. Further, if you feel that you have a hearing loss that causes you a problem, but the hospital does not offer you a hearing aid, then ask about having one.

A well fitted aid can take some of the strain out of listening and this means that the person may be less tired at the end of the day. A well fitted hearing aid can mean that the person makes fewer mistakes and this can mean fewer embarrassing incidents. It can lead to the person feeling more relaxed and less stressed.

A well fitted hearing aid can lead to greater independence and less relying on other people. There are many advantages to a hearing aid such as hearing warning sounds ad feeling less cut of from everyday life.

FAQs Frequently asked questions, and frequent comments about getting a hearing aid:

FAQ 5.a. How soon should I get a hearing aid? People who have years of experience in issuing hearing aids have found that the sooner people get their first hearing aid the better. People who have worn hearing aids successfully for years generally agree and many wish that they had started wearing them sooner.

There have been various explanations, including that the brain forgets how to interpret the signals it gets from the ears.

However, the main point here is that hearing aids are frequently found to be useful so why wait any longer than necessary to get them?

FAQ 5.b. Everybody keeps nagging at me to get a hearing aid. I don’t want one. Do I have to get a hearing aid? This is an interesting question. Nobody has to get a hearing aid. It has to be your decision. It is your choice. However it’s worth remembering that hearing aids have been designed to HELP people not to make them miserable. Hearing aids can lead to a less stressful life because listening with a hearing aid can be a lot less hard work than trying to hear without one.

FAQ 5.c. The people I know have found hearing aids to be useless: If the appropriate aid hearing aid has been carefully fitted the chances are that it will not be useless. It is important to persevere with a hearing aid even if it does not work well at first. It is very rare that a person with a hearing loss gets no help whatsoever from a hearing aid.

The reasons why some people find a hearing aid to be of no use include:

  1. the person may not have been given the most appropriate aid for them
  2. the mould may not be comfortable
  3. they may not have been given enough advice
  4. the advice may have been inappropriate for them
  5. they may not have had the confidence to practice using it

Some people find it very easy to start wearing hearing aids as they gain benefit from the start. However, many people take several months to get the best out of a hearing aid and they find that need a lot of practice in different situations.

At first a hearing aid may seem muffled, tinny and uncomfortable. However, these are all problems which can usually be solved by either practice or returning to the clinic for further help and adjustment. (See Section 9.i about “Getting used to your new hearing aid or replacement aid”.)

FAQ 5.d. Won’t a hearing aid damage my hearing? If you have been given the appropriate aid for your hearing loss then a hearing aid should not damage your hearing if they have been well fitted to suit your needs.

FAQ 5.e. Won’t a hearing aid make me look old?  Not really, since people of all ages wear hearing aids - including babies and children. Also, if the hearing aid reduces the strain of hearing you probably won’t feel so old because you won’t feel so tired.

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Section 6 - One hearing aid or two hearing aids?

You may be surprised to learn that if you have a hearing loss in both ears then it is likely that two hearing aids are better than one hearing aid. If you are fitted with two hearing aids this is sometimes called a binaural fitting.

Why are two hearing aids usually better than one hearing aid? There are several reasons, and these reasons include:
                                                                                                           

  1. Many people find that if they wear two hearing aids that they can turn down the volume of both hearing aids. They have found that when they wear only one hearing aid they need to turn the volume higher.
  1. Many people find that two hearing aids are more helpful than one hearing aid when there is background noise.
  1. People usually find that they can what direction a sound or a voice is coming from if they wear two hearing aids rather than one.
  1. Providing that the aids have been appropriately fitted and balanced it may mean that the wearer no longer has a good ear and a bad ear and so it does not matter so much which side the speaker sits.
  1. Some researchers say that wearing two hearing aids means that the brain remains practised in interpreting sound from both ears. Whereas if only one hearing aid is worn then the brain loses the capacity to interpret sound from the unaided ear because there is a lack of stimulation from that ear. Since some people may lose additional hearing it means that if they want to wear a hearing aid in their unaided ear at a later stage then it can take months and months of practice to get used to a second aid.
  1. Many people find that a sudden loud sound can be less of a problem with two hearing aids rather than with one hearing aid. This is because they have the volume on both hearing aids turned down lower than if they were wearing only one hearing aid.
  1. Another advantage of the lower volume is that there is less likelihood of distortion or feedback (whistling).

 

Unfortunately some hospitals try to save money and refuse to issue a second aid:

This is unfortunate. Nobody would issue you with one eyeglass if you needed a pair of spectacles. Hearing is similar and in general, two aids are better than one. If you have a hearing loss on both sides, ask your hearing aid clinic (audiology clinic) why they are refusing to give you a second aid. Make sure that it is because you would not benefit from a second aid rather than because they it is hospital policy not to give you a second aid.

For people who have a hearing loss on both sides but where the hearing loss is too great on one side to benefit from a hearing aid, some hospitals give what they call a CROS or a BiCROS aid whereby the sound from the ear which does not hear is routed across to the other ear.

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Section 7 - Hopes and expectations about hearing aids
                                                          
Hearing aids will help many people in many situations but unfortunately they will not fully restore normal hearing. Thus, hearing aids are likely to be very useful but they are not like the glasses people wear to correct their vision.

What sort of hopes and expectations are useful? Basically those hopes and expectations which are likely to be met.

Hopes and expectations which are likely to be met include the following:

  1. A hearing aid will usually lead to hearing more sound.
  2. A hearing aid will usually lead to understanding more speech though some people with profound losses may use their hearing aids to hear only the rhythm of speech rather than the speech itself. And/or they may use them to background and/or warning sounds.
  3. A hearing aid may take quite a long time (two or three months or more) to get used to because it can take time to re-educate the hearing system to understand more speech and recognize more sound. For example, sound may seem a bit “tinny” at first, but with time you may not notice this.
  4. It can take a lot of practice to get optimum benefit from using a hearing aid
  5. People with certain types of losses may take longer to experience benefit from wearing a hearing aid. They may also have to practise much harder and much longer to gain benefit.
  6. There are likely to still be some gaps which need to be filled in by watching the speaker and by adopting various other strategies.
  7. A hearing aid may not feel very comfortable at first. If you are at all worried take it back as there may be something wrong with the mould. (See section 9: Hearing aids and hearing aid moulds)

However, please note that if you are finding that the sound really does continue to be strange then go back to the audiology clinic because it may not have been correctly set for you. The fact is that even if it has been issued to you with the help of a computer either the aid itself may be broken or the aid may not have been set to meet your actual requirements. The settings recommended by the computer may only be the starting point for meeting your particular type of hearing loss.

The amount of benefit will depend on your degree and type of hearing loss and the aid that you have been fitted with.

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Section 8 - On your first or follow up visits to the hospital

It is worth thinking about any questions you may wish to ask. Think about possible questions before you go and write them down in case you forget. It is easy to forget your questions if you are worried or anxious.

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