Choosing a Hearing aid: 5 key things to consider

Choosing a Hearing aid: 5 key things to consider

So, you’ve taken the first step down the road of hearing loss treatment and consulted an audiologist. What’s next?

Receiving a hearing impairment diagnosis is life-changing – even for those who have long suspected they had serious auditory issues. For most, the hardest part is adjusting to their new reality. From the sheer number of hearing aid devices on the market to the countless brands, features and technologies that differentiate each, there is so much information to sift through before making an investment.

There aren’t many certainties when it comes to hearing loss, but one thing is for sure: the nature of the condition will determine the best remedy. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment. Some diagnoses require surgical intervention, while others will benefit from hearing aids alone. Those diagnosed with profound hearing loss may be better
suited to a cochlear implant. (1)

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of permanent hearing impairment and is caused by damage to inner ear structures or the auditory nerve. Due to its prevalence, many assistive technologies have been developed specifically to restore hearing for sensorineural sufferers. (2)

If you’ve been diagnosed with sensorineural hearing impairment, there are likely hundreds of devices on the market that may be suitable for you. On the contrary, if you suffer from a more niche aural issue, such as auditory neuropathy – whereby the inner ear struggles to send sound to the brain – you’ll likely need a specialised aid. Speak to your audiologist for advice relevant to your condition. (3)

Choosing a hearing aid doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you’re in the midst of researching devices, the following key pieces of advice will help you to determine which product is best for your needs.

1.Your hearing requirements

Before selecting a top-of-the-line device based on looks and features alone, it’s crucial you take the time to discuss your hearing difficulties with your audiologist so they can assess your condition and recommend suitable treatment options. Most importantly, your specialist will set reasonable expectations as to the level of improvement you can expect to gain.

Many hearing devices are designed to combat specific symptoms – such as tinnitus – so there’s no use investing in a product that may not suit your needs.

2.Features and technology

Modern hearing aids are far more than sound amplification tools. While this remains their core role, many devices on the market boast advanced features far beyond what many users expect. These include things like rechargeability – rather than battery power – smartphone connectivity, extended life and wind noise reduction.

Your specific hearing needs will likely dictate the features your device will be equipped with. So, it’s a good idea to discuss your diagnosis with your audiologist and make a list of the most beneficial technologies for your requirements

3.Budget

Cost is, unsurprisingly, one of the biggest prohibiting factors in obtaining treatment for hearing loss. Most hearing aids range from AU$1,000 to more than $6,000 each, depending on the sophistication. That’s a significant sum for most, but when you consider that devices often have to be updated every few years, it’s even more substantial.

Data analysis in the United States has shown that ownership of hearing aids is lowest among financially disadvantaged populations, with many specifically signaling prices as major obstacles. (4) (5)

Thankfully, in Australia, there are tax and private health fund rebates available, along with financial assistance for pensioners and veterans. Many audiology clinics also offer payment plans. For more information and eligibility, read our pricing page.

4.Hearing aid type

Once you’ve picked a device that’s both affordable and suitable, the next step is to choose a style. There are three main types of hearing aids: daily wear in-the-ear (ITE), daily wear behind-the-ear (BTE) and extended wear. Each has its pros and cons and comes in an array of styles.

Daily wear ITEs are very small devices, fitting snugly into the ear or ear canal. They’re typically recommended for mild to moderate hearing loss. The second type – daily wear BTEs – are the ones you’ll probably recognise. They wrap around the outside of the ear, with a tube directing sound inside. Extended wear hearing aids like the Lyric Invisible Hearing Aid are the most versatile, as they can be left in during all sorts of activities, from showering to exercising and wearing headphones. Take some time to consider which type will best accommodate your lifestyle.

 

5.Aesthetics

Both technology and medical understanding of the ear have improved exponentially over the last few decades. Say goodbye to the bulky, old-fashioned hearing devices of yesteryear. Today, you can select a hearing aid that looks sleek without blowing your budget.

Invisible in the canal (IIC) and completely in the canal (CIC) devices are the most visually appealing choices, as they’re practically undetectable from the outside. However, BTE devices are just as stylish these days and can be custom-made to match the users skin tone, style or hair colour. ​

For more advice on how to select a suitable hearing aid, click here.

Key References 

1.“Effectiveness of Cochlear Implants in Adults with Sensorineural Hearing Loss,” NCBI. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK285762/

2.“About Hearing Loss,” Deafness Foundation. Source:
https://www.deafness.org.au/about-hearing-loss#:~:text=Sensorineural%20hearing%20loss%20is%20the%20most%20common%20type%20of%20permanent%20hearing%20loss

3.“Auditory Neuropathy,” National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Source:
https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/auditory-neuropathy

4.“Opening the Market for Lower Cost Hearing Aids: Regulatory Change Can Improve the Health of Older Americans,” NCBI. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC488023/#bib9

5.“Determinants of Hearing Aid Acquisition in Older Adults,” AJPH. Source: https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2010.300078

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How hearing aids can transform your quality of life

How hearing aids can transform your quality of life

From strengthening relationships to enhancing safety, the impact of
hearing aids can be far-reaching

Acknowledging the deterioration of your hearing is a tough thing to grapple with. For some, it conjures feelings of shame and embarrassment – as if it’s a sign of weakness or ageing. These emotions are natural, of course, but completely unfounded. In fact, hearing loss is an oft-misunderstood condition, despite its prevalence.

These days, there’s no need to accept the condition as a permanent sentence. Advances in technology and scientific understanding of the human ear have culminated in hearing devices that have completely transformed the lives of sufferers. A 2007 study published in medical journal Hippokratia, found that 80% of participants with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss reported “significant benefit[s] from hearing aid use.” Their findings demonstrated a clear trend between patients with bilateral hearing loss who use binaural hearing aids and a higher quality of life. 

So, how can a small, in-ear device change a person’s life for the better? Here are six of the most significant ways:

1. Strengthens relationships

One of the most common by-products of hearing loss is social isolation. Without the ability to communicate freely and easily, affected people can begin to feel detached from their loved ones. It may start small, like missing parts of a conversation or struggling to chat on the phone. But over time, these feelings of frustration can cause sufferers to withdraw from social interaction and snowball into significant mental health problems like depression.

Hearing aids work to fill these crucial gaps in communication, facilitating stronger relationships between those with hearing impairment and the people around them.

2. Improves cognitive function

Research into the impact of hearing loss on brain function is ongoing, but studies have demonstrated an undeniable correlation. In 2017, a collection of cohort studies into hearing loss was analysed, whereby participants with either mild cognitive impairment or alzheimers were examined by scientists. This meta-analysis of over 15,000 patients found that hearing impairment was associated with a greater risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. A number of factors are thought to impact the onset of these conditions in those with hearing loss, but three of the most prevalent theories include: brain cell shrinkage from lack of stimulation, social isolation leading to less brain stimuli and heavy cognitive load due to a constant strain to understand speech and sound. 

The use of hearing aids essentially addresses all of these potential causes of mental impairment; they stimulate your mind, enable interaction with others and take some of the cognitive strain off your brain.

 

3. Bolsters financial independence

The impacts of hearing loss on a person’s life can be far-reaching. A key area which is commonly overlooked is earning potential. The inability to hear well and communicate effectively can lead individuals to retire prematurely, miss out on career growth opportunities, have their income restricted or even become excluded from the workforce entirely. A 2006 report by Access Economics supports this conclusion; in Australia, the rate of employment for those with hearing loss was 11% lower than the general population. 

The good news? Many with hearing difficulties can be aided by hearing devices, thereby allowing them to participate in the workforce and gain – or retain – financial independence.

4. Enhances safety and wellbeing

Hearing, much like health in general, is incredibly easy to take for granted. For most people, it’s not until they begin to experience difficulties that they typically grasp how important the sense is in their daily life. Without the ability to hear everyday hazards, from speeding cars to fire alarms, your personal safety could be at risk. You’re also far less likely to be able to reliably identify where danger is coming from.

While hearing aids aren’t miracle devices, they can typically enhance a wearer’s hearing to the point of perceiving danger, therefore improving their personal safety.

 

5. Contributes to ongoing physical health

In some instances, such as exposure to loud sounds, hearing impairment is simply a by-product of circumstances. But in many cases, it’s either a signal of other morbidities – such as diabetes – or the cause of further complications like depression, anxiety and heart disease. So, whether minor or severe, a loss of hearing should never be ignored.

6. Complements lifestyle choices

Do the words ‘hearing aid’ trigger images of your grandparent’s bulky ear piece that used to emit high-pitched feedback at random intervals? Thankfully, technology has come a long way over the last several decades. Just like televisions keep getting clearer and phones become smarter, hearing aids have evolved with the times, too.

Modern hearing aids are sleek and practical, enabling wearers to live active lives. Some are practically invisible, sitting right inside the ear like an earbud. The only thing that changes when you invest in your aural health is your ability to hear.

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Essential Considerations Before Buying a Hearing Aid

Essential Considerations Before Buying a Hearing Aid

Have you finally decided to purchase a hearing aid? If so, what are your concerns before buying? Some people are not interested in the preparation phase of treating their hearing loss. They immediately purchase the device, which is not advisable, especially if your hearing situation is significantly affecting the quality of your life.

A hearing aid is not a universal device, just as most medical assistive machines. Hearing aids today have different levels of technology which are dedicated to distinct types of hearing loss. Hearing specialists consider factors such as the severity of the hearing impairment in determining the frequency to be programmed. Aside from that, patients can also customise the size, look, and comfort of their personal hearing aid.

Before anything else…

This article has these two assumptions as you are reading this: You have already talked to your audiologist, or you are going to. If not, you must. According to Australia’s Department of Hearth, more than 1.3 cases of hearing problems could have been prevented.

Certified hearing specialists or audiologists must be in charge of prescribing your hearing device. They will diagnose the kind of hearing loss you have, and they will plan the best course of action for it.

Now, the questions…

After consulting an audiologist, styles of hearing aids are laid out for you to choose. You don’t have to decide immediately. Invest enough time and effort to gather all the information you can get so you don’t waste money.

Here the critical questions to ponder which will determine the perfect hearing aid for you:

 What is my lifestyle?

Health consultant from Monkeyfoodz, David Wilson says, “working out regularly and watching your diet are important aspects of maintaining your ear health. While most people believe that hearing loss happens naturally due to aging, certain nutritional patterns and physical activities may decrease your risk of developing loss of hearing. 

Observe your daily activities. Does it require you to expose yourself regularly in a setting full of noise? Is your occupation heavily reliant on people’s speech? Create a list of activities that comprise most of your day, and your plans for the future, as well. Digital hearing aids today have background noise removal features that fit individual patient’s needs. Describe your everyday listening situations to your audiologist so they can suggest the most suitable device for you.

What should my hearing aid look and feel like?

Comfort is always paramount when choosing hearing aids. There are standard and custom-made devices. When trying hearing aids, feeling a little different and sweaty due to unfamiliarity is fine. But if you feel an itch, pain, or rubbing sensation, tell your audiologist right away.

You can also specify its appearance. Do you want a tubing inside your ear? Or attaching it on the back is enough? Do you want a specific colour to match your skin tone? If you are conscious about these attributes, then make sure to clarify it with your hearing specialist.

Do you want connectivity to external devices such as smartphones and TV?

On the surface, it seems like there is no reason to turn down this wireless innovation. However, it still depends on you. If your hearing device has Bluetooth capabilities, it’s possible to stream movies and shows directly from your TV. Some still prefer the old school types, as they want simplicity and precise controls.

Am I financially ready to purchase and maintain hearing aids?

The typical lifespan of a standard hearing aid is five years. Also, be wary of the warranty of your device. Some plans offer a trial period, as well. Here at Ear and Hearing Australia, we provide hearing assessment and rehabilitation to pensioners and veterans. Explore the financial plans of your desired hearing clinic and carefully balance the options. Always remember that hearing aids is a lifetime commitment.

Researching on your own is fine, but can sometimes be a drag, especially with the digital advent of false claims everywhere. Hearing aids cannot fully restore your hearing, stay away from advertisements that say otherwise.

For hearing problems assistance, reach us by requesting an appointment through our website. We welcome all kinds of inquiry about hearing and communication.

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Music to Glenn’s ears

Music to Glenn’s ears

Australian music legend Glenn Wheatley is “thoroughly enjoying life” thanks to new hearing aids

Glenn Wheatley’s name has been synonymous with the Australian entertainment industry for the past 40 years.  From forming and managing the Little River Band to producing the two highest-selling Australian albums of all time (John Farnham’s Whispering Jack and Delta Goodrem’s Innocent Eyes), Glenn’s passion and talent has painted a musical landscape in Australia which transcends generations.

Like many in the entertainment industry however, Glenn’s success has been accompanied by challenges including tinnitus and hearing loss, which Glenn puts down to his exposure to live, loud music over extended periods.  Diagnosed with tinnitus (perceived sound or ringing in the ears) in London during his bass-playing days with Master’s Apprentices, he was told to “get used to it” as there was no cure.  It wasn’t until Glenn was diagnosed with hearing loss 10 years ago, that he purchased his first hearing aids and has relied on them since, with varying levels of satisfaction.

Around five years ago, Glenn started seeing Dr. Moh Dadafarin and his audiology team at Ear and Hearing; and has remained loyal thanks to Moh’s meticulous approach to managing his hearing.  “Moh is a genius,” Glenn explains.  “He’s done a marvellous job – he’s as good as they get.”  Moh’s long-term understanding of Glenn’s hearing needs is also an important factor.  “I can’t imagine wanting to start again with anyone else.”

When Melbourne’s COVID lockdown came to a close, Glenn was fitted with new Phonak Audeo Paradise hearing aids at Ear and Hearing.  “Phonak Paradise are the best I’ve had by far – my hearing is so much better… I can hear 100% of everything now.”  

One of the developments in hearing aid technology which has impressed Glenn, is the improvement in music streaming quality, which is important in his continued work managing Australian artists.  “I used to have to take my hearing aids out and put my ear pods in to hear the music properly… now I can listen to music through the hearing aids and the quality is extraordinary.  I love the way the hearing aids adjust to the music on my devices.”  Glenn is also looking forward to streaming directly to the hearing aids from his television; and trying the Tap Control feature to pause and resume streaming by touching his ear rather than his phone.

With COVID restrictions easing, Glenn is enjoying having hearing aids which adapt to a variety of situations, from following conversations in restaurants to quiet conversations at home. “I love the way they just adapt to the environment, it’s wonderful.”  He pays special homage to the decreased burden on those around him, including his wife, now that he’s able to hear “with enormous clarity” the first time, rather than asking those around him to repeat themselves.  “It’s amazing, I’m loving it and my wife is loving it.”

During what was an unprecedented and challenging year globally, 2020 saw significant milestones for Glenn, including the 40th anniversary of founding Australia’s first FM radio station; and Master’s Apprentices’ Because I Love You being selected to join the Sounds of Australia registry for its defining impact on Australian culture.  Now, with his hearing on track, Glenn is looking forward to an even brighter 2021.  “I’m more satisfied than I’ve ever been. I’m thoroughly enjoying life at the moment.” 

Talk to an Audiologist

Speak to one of our Melbourne Audiologists to find if Phonak Audo Paradise could be the best hearing aid for you.

Book a FREE 15-minute Audiology phone consultation.

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We’re safely OPEN and here to help

We’re safely OPEN and here to help

We’re safely OPEN and here to help

With the recent return to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne, being able to hear and communicate well has never been more important in keeping social isolation at bay. To ensure you are maximising your hearing potential, communicating to the best of your ability and remaining socially connected, be sure to keep up with your hearing care program throughout this challenging time. 

As an essential health care service, Ear and Hearing clinics remain open across Melbourne for in-clinic appointments.

You can rest assured that the premium quality of professional, holistic in-clinic hearing care you have come to expect from our trained team of qualified audiologists will continue to be delivered throughout this crisis. For clients who can’t get to a clinic or who are choosing to shelter in place to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, professional audiological support is also available over the phone and via video calls and specially designed RemoteCare apps. RemoteCare apps allow you to receive advice, training and make
real-time adjustments to your hearing aids, all from the safety and comfort of your own home. To find out more about RemoteCare – or ‘Tele-audiology’ – see here.

The health and safety of our clients, families and staff is our primary focus and concern, and we are taking considered action to ensure we all stay safe while we are supporting you with your hearing needs. In line with the recommendations provided by health authorities we have further adjusted our policies and safeguards and put in place upgraded infection control safety measures across our network of clinics. We will continue to monitor the situation for new developments daily and adjust our administration policies and clinical procedures accordingly.

We appreciate your support in keeping Ear and Hearing clinics a safe environment for yourself, our staff and all other clients, and look forward to helping you hear better very soon. 

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