Apr 24, 2019
As spring has arrived, here’s a question to ask yourself: when was the last time you heard morning birdsong or the sound of a light breeze rustling the leaves of a tree? If not, you might have hearing loss.
According to the charity, Action on Hearing Loss, only around 40% of people who need hearing aids actually have them. That’s why our ‘Sounds of Spring’ campaign is hoping to draw attention to the beautiful sounds that hearing loss may have dulled.
It’s not just about birdsong: in pubs, coffee shops and restaurants the clattering of glasses and plates and ambient chit-chat can make it hard to hear what the person next to you is saying. If this is a situation you recognise all too well, it’s time to book a free hearing test. Don’t worry, you’re not alone: 11 million people in the UK have some form of hearing loss.
How to choose hearing aids
After your hearing test, if your audiologist detects some degree of hearing loss, they will recommend you wear hearing aids. This is not only to correct your hearing loss but to help preserve your hearing further down the line by providing essential stimulation to your inner ear and your brain. They’ll also provide comprehensive advice on the type of hearing aid you'll need, based on your lifestyle and the type/degree of hearing loss you have.
Here’s our list of questions to help you choose your hearing aid:
- What size and shape do you want/need? (See our list below)
- Do you want a hearing aid that helps you pick out speech and make it easier to take part in conversations?
- Do you want to connect your hearing aids to your smartphone or other devices to stream audio into your hearing aid?
- Do you need induction loop compatibility for improved hearing in public spaces and events? (Look out for signs in places like theatres and train stations)
- Do you want rechargeable batteries or replaceable batteries?
- Do you want the hearing aid moulded to fit the shape of your ear for a better fit?
Based on a combination of your audiologist’s recommendations and your own preferences, you can choose between the five main fitting styles:
Completely in the canal (CIC) hearing aids are moulded to fit your own ear, so they’re sure to be a comfortable fit. But don’t be fooled – there’s a lot of tech in these tiny devices.
Best for: Mild to moderate hearing loss
Choose from: Oticon OPN 1, OPN 2, OPN 3, Syia 1, Syia 2, Alta2, Nera2 and Ria2 Phonak Virto B-Titanium ReSound LiNX2 Starkey Muse Widex Unique Fusion
Invisible in canal (IIC) hearing aids are even smaller versions of completely in the canal hearing aids, rendering them almost invisible when in your ear.
Best for: Mild to moderate hearing loss
Choose from: Oticon Alta 2, Nera 2 and Ria 2 Phonak Virto B-Titanium
In the canal (ITC) half shell hearing aids and, much like CIC aids, are moulded to fit inside your ear canal so they fit snugly and securely. Their size means they’re not too fiddly to put in and take out.
Best for: Moderate hearing loss
Choose from: Oticon Opn, Siya 1, Siya 2, Alta2, Nera2 and Ria2 ReSound LiNX2 Starkey Muse
In the ear (ITE) full shell hearing aids are custom-moulded to your ear for a snug, comfortable fit. Although slightly more visible they offer more amplification than a moulded in-canal aid can provide.
Best for: Moderate to severe hearing loss
Choose from: Widex Unique Fusion Starkey Muse ReSound LiNX2 Oticon Opn, Alta2, Nera2 and Ria2
Receiver in the canal (RIC) hearing aids, also known as receiver in the ear (RITE) hearing aids, offer higher technology levels covering a wider range of hearing losses, making them a popular choice.
Best for: Mild to severe hearing loss.
Choose from: Oticon Opn Oticon Siya 1, Siya 2 Alta2, Nera2 and Ria2 Phonak Audéo B ReSound LiNX2 Starkey Halo 2 Starkey Muse Unitron Moxi Widex Unique Fusion
Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids, although larger in size are the most powerful and have the capability to cover more profound hearing losses through maximum amplification but without compromising on sound quality.
Best for: Severe or profound hearing loss Choose from: Oticon Opn, Syia 1, Syia 2, Alta2, Nera2 and Ria2 Phonak Bolero B Starkey Muse Widex Unique Fusion
If you’re looking for a hearing aid that will connect to your smartphone and other devices, such as smart speakers or compatible TVs, both the Oticon Opn S range, ReSound Linx2 or the Starkey Halo 2 will help you stream audio directly to your hearing aid.
If you’re worried a hearing aid will be too big and bulky, the Phonak Virto B-Titanium might change your mind. It’s the smallest ever in-ear custom hearing aid.
Hearing aids vs amplifiers But is a hearing aid the only device that could help you? Hand-held sound amplifiers are an alternative. They can be useful, but they’re also cumbersome to carry around and will amplify all sounds, not just conversations. What’s more, they are not programmed to your hearing loss, unlike hearing aids that are moulded to your ear and specifically tailored to suit your requirements.