Hearing aids

Acutally, the title should probably be “Hearing Instruments” which includes things such as cochlear implants as well as what we commonly think of as hearing aids. But the title would be too long for the menu bar. So bear with me.

Hearing instruments have one or more microphones to pick up the sound, an amplifier and a loudspeaker which sends the amplified sound into the ear.

Hearing aids can be

  • analogue or
  • digital

Digital hearing aids are now widely available through the NHS and I think analogue are rarely if even available now. (Though I seem to remember reading that BAHAs are analogue, but I’m not sure how current that information is.) Digital hearing aids can provide superior sound quality as they can be tuned more accurately to your pattern of hearing impairment and can process sounds in different environments. For example, they are getting better at recognising “noise” and tuning it out so speech can be heard more clearly.

There are several types of hearing instrument:

  • behind the ear (BTE) which can have standard ear moulds or be open fitting
  • receiver in the ear (RTE)
  • receiver in the canal (RIC)
  • in the ear (ITE)
  • completely in the canal (CIC)
  • bone anchored aids (BAHA)
  • body worn aids
  • CROS/biCROS aids
  • aids incorporated into a set of spectacles,
  • middle ear implants and
  • cochlear implants.

There is a good article about the different types and including photos on the Hearing Link website (as well as a wealth of other information for hard of hearing people). Also see the Action on Hearing Loss website. Both organistaions have factsheets about what to expect from hearing aids, adjusting to them and how to get them.

For some fun (and realistic) comments about adapting to hearing aids, see Amanda Kvaslvig’s letter: Follow up of people fitted with hearing aids. BMJ 2002; 325:1304. (You’ll need to complete the free registration from the link there to read the article.)

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