Hear, hear for today’s hearing aids!
Today’s hearing aids look and sound rather different to what you might expect. There have been tremendous leaps forward in technology in general in recent years and hearing aids, too, have greatly improved. New hearing aid technology is available free of charge through the NHS, and of course you can purchase privately if you wish.
In simplest terms, a hearing aid makes the most of your existing hearing by amplifying sound and making it clearer. Unlike a pair of glasses which often help you see more clearly straight away however, it usually does take some practice to get used to the different way things sound through a hearing aid. The more you practice, the more natural the sound will become.
When a hearing aid is fitted, the Audiologist will programme it to the best fit, or target, for your hearing loss. However, two people with the same hearing loss on paper may perceive the sound through the hearing aid quite differently, and the hearing aid settings may need to be adjusted once you have practiced with it. This is common, and you should always return to your Audiologist to have your hearing aid settings rechecked if you are struggling with any aspect of listening with your aid. Also bear in mind that our hearing does change over time, and in particular can worsen with age, which means that your hearing aids may need to be modified or replaced with time.
There is a great deal of information available about hearing aids on the internet, such as this from the NHS Choices website:
How do I get a hearing aid?
From the NHS:
The first step is to go to your GP, who can refer you either to your local audiology clinic or ENT Consultant or (other mechanisms that need to be included?). GPs are usually very supportive of people with hearing loss and are happy to refer you on, but if you feel that your concerns are note being taken seriously (‘that’s what happens as we get older’, and ‘we all find it difficult to hear in noisy places’ and so on), then be clear in your request for a referral, so that you can be assessed for further help. More details are available on the NHS Choices link: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/894.aspx
Private hearing aids:
Many private dispensers advertise in newspapers, GP and ENT waiting rooms, and in the media.