Hearing loss can be debilitating, but for some, adding hearing aids can have a transformational effect.
This transformational effect means I have remained fascinated by hearing aid technology for nearly two decades. Along with seeing the remarkable difference it can have on someone’s well-being.
My name is Mark Edgar. I am an experienced audiologist. You will find me at my clinic in Marylebone, central London serving patients from across the capital and beyond.
What Are Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids, classed by the MHRA as medical devices, are electronic pieces of kit. Designed to help people with hearing loss hear more clearly and effectively. Hearing aids amplify sounds, delivering them directly into the ear canal. Sounds are picked up and transmitted to the brain for processing and interpretation.
Hearing aids pack a multitude of technology, continuously improving like your mobile phone. Each technological evolution adds new functions, but not all are necessary for every hearing aid user, just like with your mobile phone.
Having an audiologist that understands your needs as well as having an extensive understanding of the latest technology is super important. Following their advice, you can choose the right hearing aids for you.
What Are the Differences in Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids incorporate a wide range of advanced features and technologies. Many include directional microphones, which can help to amplify sounds coming from a specific direction while reducing background noise.
Some may feature wireless connectivity. This allows the hearing aid to connect to devices such as phones or televisions and rechargeable batteries. This eliminates the need for regular battery replacements.
There are thousands of combinations on offer. What you need is really down to you and your hearing health needs.
In my clinic in Marylebone, I see patients that love technology. Some come in with a particular requirement to enhance the sound in specific situations. Conversations with these patients can take us down a technological rabbit hole, which we both enjoy.
For others, they can find the level of choice and also the sheer complexities of the options available overwhelming. They can rely on us to support them in choosing the right hearing aid.
What Types of Hearing Aids Are There?
Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles, including behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE) and in-the-canal (ITC). In addition, completely-in-the-canal (CIC) models. The specific type is down to personal choice. For many, a hearing aid needs to be discreet; for others, it’s less critical.
How Long Have Hearing Aids Been Around?
Hearing aids have come a long way from the first form of hearing aid in the 17th century. The first electric hearing aids were introduced in 1898. This was also known as an ear trumpet or ear horn. Developed by Miller Reese Hutchison in the 1950s, transistor hearing aids became available.
1987 saw the innovation of the first digital hearing aid from the Danish company Oticon. Signifying a breakthrough in digital technology, being tuned precisely and customised to the wearer.
In 2004, another significant breakthrough happened. When the advancement of Bluetooth became built into hearing aids. It opened wireless connectivity to other devices like smartphones, televisions, and also computers.
Today hearing aids use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to be even brighter. Surprisingly, automatically adjust to different environments and learn the user’s preferences over time.
As hearing aids evolve, they offer more benefits to make the world sound better and support those with hearing loss.
What Goes into a Hearing Aid?
The components found in a hearing aid can vary from type to manufacturer. Here are some of the most common elements and their function:
- Microphone for picking up sounds in the environment and also converting them into electrical signals processed by the hearing aid
- Processor for analysing the electrical signals received from the microphone. Determining how to amplify them based on your hearing needs
- Amplifier for amplifying the electrical signals received from the processor to an appropriate level
- The receiver converts amplified electrical signals into sound waves that can be delivered to the ear canal
- The battery powers the hearing aid to operate all the components
- Volume control to adjust the volume of the device
- The programming interface used by the audiologist to program the hearing aid
- Telecoil allows one to connect directly to a compatible telephone, which subsequently can help to improve the clarity of phone conversations
- Bluetooth to connect to other devices such as smartphones, computers, and televisions
Each hearing aid may also have additional features and components that can help to improve its performance and functionality from noise reduction, directional microphones and feedback suppression. The options are endless.
Why Are Hearing Aids Expensive?
Hearing aids are used by millions every day to enrich, enhance and make the world sound better. Albeit an investment, they are an investment; worth making.
They house such incredible technology that has been reduced in size to fit the ear canal and created by some of the most advanced technology laboratories around the globe. An audiologist should take the time to explain and demonstrate which hearing aid is right for you. One that suits your needs and budget.
It’s crucial that when you purchase hearing aids, you feel you have got the best value. Thinking about your mobile phone again, it shouldn’t matter where you buy it from. Buy an Apple phone from Apple, John Lewis, or EE; there is one price and one price only. We operate the same system at my clinic; this is especially important to me. All our prices are in line with Hearing Aid UK.
Can Hearing Aids Help with Tinnitus?
Although hearing aids are primarily designed for hearing loss, they can also be helpful for people with tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition where you can experience ringing, buzzing, and hissing—or other similar sounds in the ears or mind, without any external source creating the sounds.
Hearing aids with built-in sound generators can produce sounds to help distract, making tinnitus symptoms less noticeable and also bothersome.
Bluetooth hearing aids can stream sound therapy directly to the hearing aid. Therefore, sound therapy can help to manage the condition by playing soothing sounds or music to distract from tinnitus.
Until an audiologist has examined your ears and measured your hearing, we can never guarantee how effective a hearing aid can be for tinnitus. Research shows that managing tinnitus with different approaches, such as sound therapy, counselling, and relaxation techniques, can generally help. Always speak to your audiologist and get the best care for you.
Finding the Right Audiologist Near You
Finding the right audiologist is essential for you and your hearing health. Seeing your audiologist will be something you do ongoing. Finding one you trust, get on with and have access to for aftercare is crucial. Spend time doing your research, look online, and go in and meet people in person.
Because you have had a hearing test with another clinic, it doesn’t mean you have to continue under their care. We care for patients with hearing difficulties and even hearing aids dispensed by other providers.
Which Brand Is Best for Hearing Aids?
When it comes to hearing aid brands, there are many available. The brand and model of the hearing aid should be chosen with great care. After all, everyone’s needs are unique. Here are just a few of the trusted brands we especially provide patients at our clinic in Marylebone:
These global brands invest heavily in innovation, consequently improving them constantly. This means we healthcare professionals continually learn and keep entirely up to speed, something I relish. Therefore, having good relationships with these brands and a passion for learning about the latest developments is vital.
If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing difficulties, don’t wait to seek help. Generally, the sooner you get support, the better. If you need a hearing aid, allow yourself time to adjust to the idea. Think of hearing aids as tiny miracles that mean you can continue being you but with enhanced sound. Imagine all the benefits they will bring to your life.
At our Hearing Loss Consultations, we take time in the appointment to listen about the impact your hearing is having on your life generally. If you want a Hearing Loss Consultation, book an appointment.