Signs of hearing loss
Our ability to hear  defines  who  we are  and  how we communicate. When everything works as it should, our sense  of  hearing has the power to inform, entertain  and connect us  with family and friends. As we grow older, many people begin to  experience hearing loss. This is a natural part of the ageing  process  and develops gradually over  time. Already at age 20 we’ve lost  the ability to perceive  some  of  the  sounds  infants can hear.  By the time we reach 40, subtle but  significant losses have begun to occur. As we continue to live longer, coupled with growing exposure to loud noise from modern lifestyles, hearing impairment is increasingly common at  an earlier  age. Even a  slight hearing  loss  can have a negative  impact on our  ability to work, socialise and enjoy life. Once we reach our 80s, more than half of us suffer from significant hearing loss.

Common signs of a hearing loss:
–  Frequently having to ask people to repeat themselves
–  Having trouble hearing in noisy or busy places
–  Misunderstanding conversations
–  Finding that people are mumbling
–  Increasing the volume on the television
–  Avoiding social situations

If  any  of  these  sound  familiar, it’s a good idea to make  an appointment with your local Hearing Professional who will carry out a thorough evaluation of your hearing. They will confirm if you have a  hearing  loss  and  what its cause might  be. Together,  you and your  Hearing Professional will determine the correct course of action. Hearing loss treatment is a simple process that can quickly get you back on track and enjoying life to the fullest. If you need a hearing device, we can help you make the right choice. The sooner  you take  this first step, the sooner you can begin your journey back to better hearing.

Hearing Instrument Technology
The  most   important  part  of  any  hearing   aid  is  the technology  inside. Put  simply, the  more sophisticated the technology, the more precise and realistic the  listening experience.  All hearing aids amplify sounds via microphones, but the quality of those sounds can differ dramatically.  Until now, the majority of hearing aids used either analogue or digital technology  to process  the sound but the very latest advances in hearing aid technology have led to the introduction of the  state-of-the-art hearing aids with nanotechnology.

Analogue: This is the older type which tended to over-emphasise background noise. You should always seek to replace this type with digital. One  exception  is  that  some patients  with  profound  hearing  loss actually  adapted so much to analogue that they found digital unpleasant to hear with. We recognise this issue and can help those people too.

Digital: With the advent of digital sound quality, patients were able to experience significantly better sound quality. Digital hearing aids are embedded with computer chips which allow sound to  be amplified at   the  specific  frequencies  where  hearing  loss has occurred.   This  enables  at   the  specific frequencies to customise the hearing aid to your unique listening needs resulting in a more realistic natural hearing experience.


Nanotechnology: Beyond  digital,   this cutting-edge  science  occurs  at  the  molecular level  to further enhance the listening experience   and  deliver  more  features than previously possible  Hearing aids built with nanotechnology  can  virtually  eliminate several  of  the most troublesome characteristics of older instruments  like  feedback and sound artefacts.  Other  advantages  include a seamless transition from one listening environment  to the next, improved speech intelligibility, automatic activation to eliminate the need for manual adjustment and near-perfect feedback elimination.

Binaurally Synchronized: A  recent  development  is  in  the  paired  functions of many hearing aids. They process decisions about directionality, compressing  background  noise and  control of feedback (whistling) together, improving speech intelligibility even more. 

One Ear or Two?: Like our vision, our hearing mechanism relies on input from  both ears to locate sound sources. One ear simply cannot do the work of two. To achieve the most natural hearing experience, it is vital that both  ears  work  equally  well.  Two-ear hearing    is    called   binaural.   Recent studies   show  that  those  wearing two instruments understand more clearly and enjoy  better  sound  quality. Approximately two-thirds of new  hearing  instrument  wearers opt for dual hearing instruments. These wearers report a higher level of satisfaction than those who purchase a single instrument. Our ears allow us to focus on specific sounds and conversations. Hearing with both ears helps the brain to distinguish speech from noise more easily than if only one ear receives the sound.

A Balancing Act: Two ears make our hearing more balanced and enable us to determine which direction a sound if coming from,  like  the  location  of  an  oncoming  car or the position of someone speaking to you. Hearing  with  both  ears  is  also  far more comfortable.   With  both ears  working  together,  less amplification  is  needed  to  hear everyday  sounds  and  lower  volume  means  less   distraction background noise. Hearing clearly  again will  have  a  positive impact  on your relationships, your career and your leisure activities. Your  local Hearing Professional can provide  you  with expert advice and assistance on your hearing.     

Adjusting to a better life with hearing instruments: 
Choosing a hearing device is just the beginning of the journey to better hearing.  How quickly you adjust to your hearing instrument, you will notice an increase in the noise levels around you.  This background noise has probably always been there, but with your hearing loss, you might not have noticed these sounds. It may take a while to get used to hearing sounds being louder than  before. As with anything new, it will take time and patience as you adapt to this new way of hearing. Hearing  is  only part  of  how we exchange  thoughts, ideas  and  feelings.   Reading  lips,  facial expressions and gestures can enhance the learning process and  supplement  what  amplification alone may miss. The continued understanding and support of family and friends are crucial as you pursue improved hearing. The following steps can make communication easier when you are adjusting to a new hearing device.

• Looking at the person who is speaking and sitting face-to-face in a quiet room.
• Minimising distractions; for example, doing dished at the sink and trying to have a    conversation is difficulty even for those with normal hearing.
• Moving closer to the speaker and within sight
• Trying different locations in a room that has poor acoustics

When you use your instruments for the first time, you’ll notice that the hearing process feels different. That’s because your brain actually has to relearn how to hear sounds – especially the complex range of frequencies in human speech. The following are observations made by the first-time hearing aid wearers:

• It takes time to adjust to wearing hearing instruments
• Your voice may sound different at first.
• Hearing in situations with background noise should improve, but probably not as much  as hearing in quiet places. 

This period of adjustment is completely normal. But before long you’ll start  hearing sounds you’ve been  missing  as  well  as  many  you  didn’t  even  realise  were  gone. You might begin to notice sounds you haven’t heard for some time, such  as  the hum of household appliances, or the subtle sounds of nature. Research  suggests  that  speech comprehension increases over a period of several months after first  using  a  hearing instrument. The longer  you  wear  the  device, the clearer and more natural these sounds will become. There’s  so  much  in life that’s  worth hearing.  Spending  time  adjusting to your hearing aid is a valuable  process  which  will  ultimately  allow  you to  make sure you can appreciate every single sound and enjoy hearing again.

Hearing Aid Styles
Hearing  instruments  come in  a  variety of sizes, from tiny, invisible-in-the-canal  models to those which sit behind the ear. The right hearing instrument style and size  depends on several factors, including: degree of hearing loss, listening requirements, ear  shape and size, the ability to handle and control instruments and lifestyle needs. Many people are concerned about the effect a hearing aid will have on their appearance but its worth remembering that others will be far less aware of the instrument than you. Today’s hearing instruments can be very discreet. Your Hearing Professional will discuss with you the  different factors relating to each style  before  recommending  a  specific device. Understanding  some of  the differences  between  the hearing aid styles will help you and your Hearing Professional choose the instrument that’s right for you.

Behind-The-Ear (BTE): BTE instruments rest behind the ear and house the device’s technology. A clear plastic tube then directs amplified sound into an ear mould inside the ear canal. Behind-the-ear instruments are often the most durable hearing devices – some are even waterproof. Compared to smaller in-the-ear instruments, they hold more circuitry and offer greater amplification. Some NHS BTE products feature thin tubes with small domes on the tip (sometimes referred to as thin-tube) – they are more suited to milder, high frequency hearing losses. If you have worn NHS BTEs for a long time, the NHS will often update them for thin-tube types, which tend to be more comfortable, however they can block easily with earwax.

Receiver-In-The-Canal (RIC) RECOMMENDED: The most popular hearing aid style available today, the receiver-in-the-canal device is small, discreet and incredibly quick-to-fit and perfect for many first-time wearers. A RIC places the miniature speaker directly in the ear canal, enhancing both comfort and sound quality. Waterproof styles are now available too.

Invisible-In-The-Canal (IIC) RECOMMENDED: The invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) is 100% invisible and sits comfortably near the second bend of your ear canal. The IIC is custom fit and appropriate for a range of hearing losses.

Completely-In-The-Canal (CIC): These devices fit completely in the canal. Only the head of a tiny plastic line with which you insert or remove the instrument shows above the canal. Although CIC instruments offer aesthetic appeal, the structure of some individuals’ ears (e.g. those with a very narrow canal) may make this style unsuitable for them.

In-The-Canal (ITC): In-the-ear instruments house their technology components in a custom-formed ear mould featuring an ear mould that fits down into the ear canal and a smaller portion that faces out into the outer ear. ITCs are appropriate for wearers with a mild to severe hearing loss and feature easy-to-use controls which are ideal for those with limited manual dexterity.

Constant wear (Lyric 3): Lyric 3 is a soft bodied analogue hearing aid inserted deep in the ear canal by the Hearing Professional, where it is worn for months at a time. It will be replaced for you on a regular basis. The wearer can sleep and bathe with Lyric left in 
place.

Non prescription / Internet products: Whilst the UK is a highly regulated market, certain loopholes allow ‘hearing aids’ to be sold through the post. These will usually be non 
custom in the ear types (which tend to be impractical and / or ugly), or thin tube types 
with volume controls so you can suit yourself.


Spectacle hearing aids: Most spectacle aids still require a tube to be placed in the ear canal. A very few vibrate the sound directly to the inner ear by means of a vibrating pad pressed against the skull (these are rarely prescribed as they suit very few). Spectacle aids are over promoted at times, giving an impression that they are commonly fitted and that they give successful outcomes. The truth is, they are rarely prescribed.  

www.rjdhearingcare.co.uk

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