If our eyesight is bad, we as a nation have no problem going to the opticians to get glasses - in fact, glasses can be quite the fashion statement. However, the doesn’t seem to be true for hearing aids, and the reason could be that hearing loss is mostly associated with the ageing process. According to Action on Hearing Loss, there are 11 million people with hearing loss across the UK, which is around one in six of us.
It isn’t just the elderly who suffer with hearing loss, as there are around 50,000 children with hearing loss in the UK. Around half are born with hearing loss while the other half lose their hearing during childhood. On the flip side, more than 40% of people over 50 years old have hearing loss, which rises to 71% of people over the age of 70 and around one in 10 UK adults has tinnitus.
If you are worried about your hearing, the NHS describes some early signs to look out for. These include difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say, especially in noisy places, asking people to repeat themselves, listening to music or watching TV with the volume higher than other people need, difficulty hearing on the phone, finding it hard to keep up with a conversation and feeling tired or stressed from having to concentrate while listening.
If you have identified yourself as someone who struggles with hearing, you should go and visit a specialist known as an audiologist who may suggest you would benefit from wearing a hearing aid. According to Hearing Aid Know, there are three main hearing aid types. These include:
• BTE Hearing Aids: These devices are worn with the hearing aid on top of and behind the ear. All of the parts are in the case at the back of the ear, and they are joined to the ear canal with a sound tube and a custom mould or tip.
• ITE Hearing Aids: These are custom-made devices and all of the electronics sit in a device that fits in your ear, they come in many sizes including CIC (completely in Canal) and IIC (Invisible in Canal).
• RIC RITE Hearing Aids: These devices are similar in concept to BTE hearing aids, with the exception that the receiver (the speaker) has been removed from the case that sits at the back of the ear. It is fitted in your ear canal or ear and connected to the case of the hearing aid with a thin wire.
Here are some interesting facts you might not have known about hearing aids before today:
1. The website hearingaids.com say that hearing aids “can memorise settings for multiple listening environments and can recalibrate—sometimes automatically—depending on sound input received from your surroundings.” This put simply means that hearing aids can remember different settings and programme themselves to adapt to them; just like a human ear.
2. The website also adds that many hearing aids can sync with wireless devices by using Bluetooth, enabling you to receive direct auditory signals from your smartphone, television, and more. Apple have also recently partnered with major hearing aid manufacturers to develop a Made for iPhone app that streams audio to your hearing aids directly from any iOS device. Pretty cool, huh?
3. According to hear.com you can hear in all directions with hearing aids. “Hearing aids are built with directional microphones to detect all ambient noises and automatically filter them for important sounds. Therefore, you can understand your conversation partner well in noisy scenes – whether he is sitting next to you in the car or in a busy cafe.”
4. You probably did not notice, but hear.com adds that “many celebrities wear hearing aids, such as U2 frontman Bono, Eric Clapton and Phil Collins. Also, Oscar prizewinners Christoph Waltz, Robert Redford and Jodie Foster as well as fashion designer Wolfgang Joop wear hearing aids.”
5. Hearing aids can help to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus, according to 121captions.com. “Some hearing aids provide a kind of ‘masking’ effect for tinnitus, allowing you to hear sounds more naturally.”
6. Lastly, 121captions.com recommend that you shouldn’t buy hearing aids online, as they have to be programmed by a certified audiologist or hearing specialist. “Follow-up visits are just as important to ensure your hearing aids are adjusted properly and working optimally.” Don’t cut corners when it comes to your hearing and your health!