People who suffer from untreated hearing loss often find it extremely difficult to participate in social activities, even within their own family. Even a mild hearing loss can lead to a lower quality of life. Many people with a hearing loss complain of difficulty communicating with family and friends, feeling isolated and left out, lack of concentration, embarrassment, headaches, tiredness and a loss of self confidence. Untreated hearing loss not only affects your quality of life, but over time it also affects the brain’s ability to remember common everyday sounds. When the hearing nerves are not stimulated, the brain ‘forgets’ the sounds over time and becomes unable to understand them. Therefore, it is important to have your hearing tested as soon as you suspect a hearing problem.
- People seem to be mumbling
- You have to strain to hear when someone talks or whispers
- You have difficulty hearing someone call from behind or in another room
- You need to watch a speaker’s lips more closely to follow conversation
- Following a conversation is difficult when you are in a group of people
- You have to turn up the volume on the TV or radio
- You have problems hearing clearly on the telephone
- You have difficulty hearing at the theatre, cinema or other venues
- You find it hard to hear in noisy restaurants or in the car
- You have begun to limit your social activities due to difficulty hearing
- Family or friends mention that they often have to repeat themselves
The outcome is not inevitable that hearing aids are required but more often than not, hearing instruments are the remedy and they will vastly improve the quality of life for you and your family. Approach them with an open mind and you will be pleasantly surprised by how effective, comfortable and discreet they can be
In adults, the biggest cause of hearing loss is aging. However, the age at which it is being found is getting younger due to the increased exposure to noise. There can be many other causes of hearing loss including ear wax, infections, genetic disorders etc. Certain types of hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically. For a majority of people, the answer often lies in hearing aids.
You can self refer to a private audiologist, just like you would for a dentist or optician. Alternatively, you can contact your ENT or GP. Your health professional will be able to advise you on the best form of treatment.
For many people hearing aids are seen to be of tremendous benefit. Hearing aid technology has been improving rapidly and digital hearing aids have led to superior sound quality and sleek looking appearance. Hearing aids do not restore your hearing to normal, but they improve it significantly. It becomes easier to hear what other people say. Hearing aids increase your self confidence and help you participate in activities that you may otherwise have avoided due to your hearing loss.
There are two routes to obtaining hearing aids. You could go to the NHS which provides hearing aids and batteries free of charge. You will need to go first to your GP who will refer you to the local ENT department. More centres are now providing digital hearing aids. All services and repairs are also provided by the NHS. However, there is a very long waiting list (over a year in some cases). Also, you may not get the smaller hearing aids that go inside the ear or the most recent technology. Often, you will only be provided one hearing aid even though you have a hearing loss in both ears. The hearing aids are considered to be NHS property.
Alternatively, you could go directly to a private hearing aid audiologist. Private practitioners must be registered with the Hearing Aid Council. They will be able to spend more time with you to help you get the most out of your hearing aids. You will also get a much wider choice of the type of hearing aid most suited to yourself. Most tend to offer a free trial period of 30 to 60 days. A hearing aid could cost anywhere between £300 and £3000. Remember that buying a hearing aid privately does not affect your rights to a NHS hearing aid.
There are over 6+ major hearing aid manufacturers, each producing exceptional quality products. Which hearing aid is right for you is determined by the results of your audiogram, your lifestyle, your cosmetic requirements and your dexterity. The hearing aid audiologist will select the correct hearing aid for you based on your own requirements.
Think of them as miniature computers designed and customized for your own hearing. And when you consider that you are getting one of your senses for the price of a holiday, it may just help put things into perspective.
Never buy any hearing aids that have not been designed for you. You must have a proper hearing test and the hearing instrument must be programmed to suit your hearing loss. Many people waste money on buying cheap instruments off websites or magazines. However, these devices are found to be non-beneficial and can also put users off obtaining proper hearing aids.
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