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hearingaids-direct.co.uk  >  Ask Hearing Aids Direct   >  How to pick the right hearing aids for you?

How to pick the right hearing aids for you?

How to  pick the right hearing aids for you?  It can seem a bit of a minefield when you first think about .  Or even when you decide to replace your current hearing aids with the next ‘right hearing aids for you’.  There’s such a wide array of hearing aids in UK.  I (Zoe, founder of Hearing Aids Direct) have worn hearing aids for over 35 years.  Both NHS hearing aids and private hearing aids.  Hopefully picking up a bit of experience and understanding of both processes along the way!  Here are my experiences.  Sharing them should help demystify the process a bit for you.  Both systems have strengths and weaknesses, with some inevitable cross-overs between the two!

First Things first:  Different types of hearing aids explained – simply!

In order to pick the right hearing aids you need to understand the basic different types of hearing aids available.  If we then move on to which ones are best suited for what before joining it all up.  This will help you to pick the right hearing aids for you?

Behind The Ear (BTE) Hearing Aid

Behind The Ear (BTE) – by far the most common type of hearing aid. Very simply – all of the ‘tech’ sits snugly behind the ear with a small tube running to a dome or a mould carrying the sound to your ear.  This type also encompasses most of the ‘power’ aids (more on this later!).

Receiver in Canal (RIC) Hearing Aid - my favourite type

Receiver in Canal (RIC) Hearing Aid – my favourite type

Receiver in Canal (RIC) – This means that, in effect, if you think of your hearing aid as a hi-fi set up, the speaker sits in your ear canal.  RIC hearing aids can be combined with BTE hearing aids and also the next type on our list….

Concealed in Canal (CIC) Hearing Aid

Concealed in Canal (CIC) Hearing Aid

Concealed in Canal (CIC) https://www.starkey.com/hearing-aids/styles/invisible – As with the other commonly abbreviated terms CIC is fairly self-explanatory.  It just means that all of the hearing aid sits within your ear canal.   For this reason all of these devices are also RIC.

The others:  There are other various hearing systems.  Most all fall within these first 3 categories (from an actual sound delivery point of view).  For example you can get help via hearing aids with tinnitus.  Or if you are unilaterally (only on one side) deaf you will be prescribed a CROS system.  This is when the hearing aid on your deaf side acts as a microphone picking up sound in place of your ear.  It then transmits it to a hearing aid on the other (relatively hearing) side.  Which means you won’t have to continually place people on your ‘good side’.  The hearing aids will very cleverly act together to help you hear what is going on, on both sides.

How to pick the right hearing aids for you?

Always start with a professional audiogram!

Always start with a professional audiogram!

When picking the right hearing aids for you, the most important place to start is by having a thorough examination and audiogram with an Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Registered Audiologist.  During this examination your HCPC registered Audiologist will check your ear health and assess your hearing.  They will be able to give you a copy of your results.  These show you the severity and pattern of your hearing loss.  This is the best place to start your ‘how to pick the right hearing aids for you journey’!

Each of the types of aids have different strengths and weaknesses.  As do the different manufacturers.  For example if you have a very severe and profound level of hearing loss then you are going to need a ‘Power Aid’.  An aid such as the Oticon Xceed would be ideal.  Manufacturer Oticon’s Xceed aid is the most powerful hearing aid available.  The large processing power means it is capable of very high levels of amplification.  It’s processing power also minimises the risk of distortion or feedback.  In order to house all of the electronics required to create these volumes, the casings on power aids tend to be a bit bigger than on many of the other BTE models.  For the same reason a CIC would probably be less suitable.  The restriction on the size of the hearing aids housing to enable it to fit within an ear canal reduces the possibility to incorporate enough electronics and technology.  Making offering good sound reproduction at a suitable volume without distortion difficult.

Oticon Xceed - Power Aid - most powerful hearing aid available

Oticon Xceed – Power Aid – most powerful hearing aid available

Struggling to hear in social situations? Which hearing aids will help you most?

Most people first notice they may need hearing aids when they begin to struggle to hear people speaking.  Made worse when they are in busy environments.  In this instance most of the aids on the market will be very helpful.  There will be no required minimum size for the electronics.  An obvious choice for this, if budgets allow, would be a BTE, RIC hearing aid with an open dome.  The dome is the part of the hearing aid which sits in the ear (if it doesn’t have a mould or custom fit – more on those in a mo’).  An open dome is best if you have a mildish hearing loss.  An open dome will be most comfortable and also allows as much natural sound into your ear as possible.  Enabling you to hear everything you can hear without your hearing aids.  It just supplements the bits you are missing.  It will also minimise the level of occlusion you experience. Occlusion: when your voice sounds loud and echoey in your head. Caused by a blockage (either fully or partially) of your ear canal.

Do you love to party?

Do you love to party?

How to pick the right hearing aids – how they look?

Another really important factor in how to pick the right hearing aids for you is how the hearing aids look.  There are quite a few options and different appearances available.  You can choose from invisible CIC models to BTE models coloured to match your hair.  You can pick a brightly coloured funky one in order to make a fun feature out of them possibly?  Although the fully invisible CIC models sound great.  In reality they also create the highest level of occlusion.  This is because they completely block the ear canal.  This means that you won’t hear any natural sound, only the sound replicated by the hearing aids.  Creating occlusion and the associated difficulties this brings.  Many people go for this type as their first hearing aids.  At a point when they don’t have a very severe level of hearing loss.  

Playful Hearing Aids - make them a feature, have some fun?

Playful Hearing Aids – make them a feature, have some fun?

Out of sight isn’t always out of mind!

Unlike glasses which so many people wear throughout their  lives traditionally you only need hearing aids if you are disabled or old.  Meaning people would rather keep them hidden regardless of the compromises that may mean. Also as the CIC’s are so relatively difficult to get used to people often have a negative first experience.  Sometimes being put off hearing aids for life!!  At the very least, often, people find themselves returning their CIC versions before trying and ultimately sticking with a BTE RIC instead.  If budgets allow then as a first port of call a BTE RIC is probably the right hearing aid for most people to choose.  Particularly in relation to a milder age related early onset deafness.  Speaking of budgets…..!

How to pick the right hearing aids for you – on price?

NHS Hearing Aids are free!

NHS Hearing Aids are free!

Another major consideration when you are trying to pick the right hearing aids for you is the hearing aids UK cost.  We are so lucky in the UK that we are able to access NHS hearing aids free of charge.  Unless you lose one in which case you generally need to pay a fee towards the replacement of the device.  This varies but is often in the region of £50-£75.  I had NHS hearing aids for many years and my first pair completely changed my life.  I remember hearing birdsong and the intonation in people’s voices for the first time in years.  Whenever I try to describe it to people it still makes me cry.  In fact I’m even finding typing about it quite emotional!!!  Again, a huge blessing for all of us in the UK is that if we need hearing aids.  Unlike in many parts of the world, we will be able to have one.  Regardless of our budget.  

Why not look at a refurbished hearing aid as an alternative to an NHS hearing aid?

Refurbished Hearing Aids - kind to people and the planet

Refurbished Hearing Aids – kind to people and the planet

The NHS hearing aids get better and better all the time.  Many are now Bluetooth connectable.  In some cases it is possible to get an NHS Bluetooth rechargeable hearing aid.  I have tried and reviewed quite a few hearing aids over the last year or so.  If money was no object I think I would choose one of the higher levels of BTE RIC hearing aids from any one of the manufacturers.  I’m not convinced you always need to go for the absolutely most expensive.  In fact I think it is possible to get a really great set of hearing aids at a very reasonable price.  We have a large selection of refurbished hearing aids available in our refurbished hearing aids department.  Why not have a quick browse?  We have hearing aids to cover all lifestyles.  They are such an economical alternative and no waiting lists!!

How to pick the right hearing aids for you – lifestyle!

Phonak Lumity life - world's first waterproof hearing aid!

Phonak Lumity life – world’s first waterproof hearing aid!

It is also super important to take into account your lifestyle when trying to pick the right hearing aids for you.  I’ve spent the last few months wearing lots of different hearing aids in order to tell everyone all about them.  I can definitely confirm that there’s a huge difference in which hearing aids are more suited to different lifestyles.  For example for a super active indoor/outdoor/wet/dry life involving gym visits, swimming pools, steam rooms and actually even if you just like to have your hair washed and dried at the salon then, if budgets aren’t a big worry,  you’d be hard pressed to beat the Phonak Lumity Life.  I tried them recently and really loved them for all the reasons listed.  You can watch my review of it here. As a relatively (although getting less so) young hearing aid wearer I still work full time and share my life with four older children (or younger adults, depending on your point of view!).  As well as a lot of mess they generate a lot of noise. 

Busy life and need to make lots of calls?

Using the phone in a noisy environment?

Do you use the phone a lot in a busy office?

Do you use the phone a lot in a busy office?

All of the Phonak aids have their microphones for Bluetooth phone use in the hearing aid.  Rather than your voice being picked up by the phone for your caller.  Your spoken audio is directed via the microphone in the hearing aid to the listener.  I found that as my environment is often quite busy (and noisy) this made it difficult for people on the other end of call to hear me.  The hearing aids were picking up too much of my background noise.  Unless I shouted I couldn’t be heard.  Which was a bit of a problem.  

Best of both worlds?

I experienced the same problem with both the Oticon and Resound initially and had to call technical support.  However, with both the Oticon and Resound hearing aids it was possible to override the internal microphone.  Meaning I used the microphone on the telephone and not the hearing aid.  Which solved the problem.  Unfortunately the Phonak aids don’t offer that functionality. For that reason alone, with a busy life, I would suggest the Oticon  rather than the Phonak hearing aids.  Particularly if you rely on being able to make telephone calls in busier environments.  

Busy life but more culture vulture, nature lover than party animal?

The Phonak noise reduction is brilliant and super for larger social gatherings.  Whereas the Resound Omnia offers fantastic sound replication.  I particularly noticed the clarity and depth of sound of nature around me on walks. For example bird song was really clearly defined with these aids.  Typing that made me want to be outside listening again.  Here’s some birdsong I found to satisfy that feeling!  

I love talking about hearing aids (thankfully as I do it a lot!).  However, I love a good walk in nature more!

Although I found the hearing aids struggled more in busier environments.  The switch between programmes was quite obvious and sometimes happened when my surroundings hadn’t changed, which was a little bit disorientating.  All of the hearing aids I have highlighted here are modern, relatively expensive and ‘bluetooth hearing aids’ – (more on these in a min).  Meaning they can be controlled by an application on a smartphone.  

Do I really need the all singing all dancing ones?

However, there’s a really strong chance that you won’t want, need or use lots of the bells and whistles that therefor come with these hearing aids.  In which case, why pay more for them?  There are many other hearing aids available and our fantastic nurses, audiologists and consultants know all about them.  They will be delighted to try and de-bunk the whole thing for you.  For example one of our affordable, sustainable, circular, refurbished hearing aids may be perfect for you.   Why not give us a call on 0330 230 3333, email us on info@hearingaids-direct.co.uk or book a brief video call here?

How to pick the right hearing aid for you – connectivity!

Bluetooth Hearing Aid - right pick for you?

Bluetooth Hearing Aid – right pick for you?

Hearing aids and Bluetooth technology have come on leaps and bounds over the past few years.  Each manufacturer has different levels of technology within their current product releases.  All of their top level hearing aids feature good Bluetooth streaming, mostly two way.  Meaning you can listen and talk through the hearing aid.  All of these higher tech level hearing aids can be controlled by an app on a smart phone.  Most of the manufacturers hearing aids can talk to both IOS (Iphones) and Android devices.  I had the very good fortune to experience the launch of the latest range of hearing aids from Oticon this morning (27/2/24).  

 

 

Oticon Intent - latest 4D technology for all listening environments

Oticon Intent – latest 4D technology for all listening environments

Their new flagship device the Oticon Intent (which is available to buy in our shop here!) is an MFI (Made for Iphone – as an aside, who remembers when MFI stood for More Furniture Ideas??).  So it offers two way streaming to all the newer (12 or later) iphone models.  The equivalent flagship model from the Phonak brand is the Phonak Lumity Range.  This range from Phonak connects with both IOS and Android.  Having worn and reviewed various Phonak products recently, as an Iphone user I experienced a few difficulties.  I was advised by my audiologist that the Phonak aids tended to work slightly better with Android than IOS.  Which smart phone you use could have a bearing on how to pick the right hearing aids for you?

Any questions on ‘How to pick the right hearing aids for you’?

We hope you have found this article helpful.  It really is the briefest of overviews to try and explain how there is something for everyone out there.  Knowledge is key.  We have that knowledge and would love to share it with you??!  So if you do have any questions on ‘how to pick the right hearing aids for you’ then please do get in touch with us.  We will do our very best to help you.  You can do this in all the usual ways:

Call us on:  0330 230 3333

Email us at: info@hearingaids-direct.co.uk

Book a brief video chat here.

Get helpful information on what’s important to you when choosing your hearing aids. Please do get in touch with our amazing audiologists, nurses or consultants. Call us on: 0330 230 3333 or e-mail us at: info@hearingaids-direct.co.uk

Zoe Fawcett-Eustace

Zoe Fawcett-Eustace co-founder of Hearing Aids Direct. Having worn hearing aids since the age of 17, Zoe is passionate making the best and most affordable technology as widely available as possible.