Different types of hearing aids offered
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
A range of digital BTE aids are available to suit differing degrees of hearing loss.
Body-worn hearing aids
These hearing aids (box) are usually worn on the clothing and a cord links the device to an ear piece. Body-worn hearing aids may be suitable for patients with sight problems, or problems using very small switches or buttons.
CROS/BiCROS hearing aids
These are for people with severe to profound unilateral or asymmetrical hearing loss. A hearing aid is fitted to the better ear with a separate microphone placed on the worst ear side. The microphone and hearing aid are wirelessly connected to each other. The purpose of this aid is to provide better sound perception on the worst ear side.
Assistive listening devices
Pocket talkers is another body worn amplification device that is offered to patients in cases where formal audiological assessment cannot be performed e.g. inpatients with lost aids. These devices may also be loaned to in-patients who cannot for some reason attend the department for formal assessment.
Hearing aid accessories
Today’s wireless hearing aids make it possible for hearing aid users to connect with personal electronic devices and stream signals directly to the hearing aid through the use of Bluetooth. A wide variety of products incorporating Bluetooth connectivity have been developed, including mobile phones, music players, computers, tablets and televisions.
During your hearing aid fitting appointment, you should discuss your needs for wireless connectivity and, if appropriate, an audiologist will recommend companies from which you can purchase devices that will enable the Bluetooth connectivity.
Action on Hearing Loss and Connevans are among the organisations that patients can contact if they require any assistive listening devices or accessories for their hearing aids (catalogues can be found in the department).
The benefit of wearing two hearing aids
Hearing aids worn in both ears can offer additional benefits when the degree of impairment is equivalent in both ears. When two hearing aids are worn:
- sound can be more natural and clear
- a lower volume setting may be used
- listening in noise may be less difficult
- it may be easier to localise sounds
- gives a sense of “hearing balance”.
When is a hearing aid unsuitable?
Hearing aids could be unsuitable when other medical treatment options are available or required, such as surgery. The decision is generally made with an audiologist and ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultation. Hearing aids might also be unsuitable when the benefits of conventional hearing aids are limited, for example if a patient has:
- conductive hearing loss that fluctuates between normal and mild hearing loss within a relatively short period of time
- infected or discharging ears preventing the wearing of a closely fitting earmould
- profound hearing losses (quantified by no responses on the pure tone audiogram)
- neural components in hearing loss as hearing aids are designed to compensate for sensory impairment
Patients’ individual communication needs and psychosocial aspects are of paramount importance when deciding whether to fit hearing aids or not.