How often do I hear “ I have hearing aids but I did not wear them today!!” “too loud, to soft, uncomfortable, sounds are distorted, only wear them to watch TV, batteries expensive….” The list is endless.. The best one still “my dog ate them!!”

I believe a large chunk of the blame for the poor take-up of hearing aids is the wrong device for the right person OR the right device for the wrong person.

As a dispensing group of hearing aid practitioners this practice need to change and I do my utmost to achieve this.

Hearing aids are not “plug and play” devices  and require careful consideration of a multiple of factors relating to the patient’s diagnosis,  faculties, hearing, budget and the capabilities of the hearing devices. I see all too often inappropriate devices dished out without enough consideration to the above. 

Hearing aids should be like your prescription glasses. Would you dare to leave home without them? Unlikely! You would be lost. The same premise should apply to hearing devices.

My favored devices are Starkey and Oticon, not in a specific order. They have a wide range of fitting styles and budgets which cover most bases. Widex and Sygnia do not provide me with any support as they stated as an ENT specialist they do no want to upset the industry and risk losing the backing of threatening audiologists by supporting me. Can anyone believe that?? 

The last general comment is that hearing aids are unlikely to be a successful outcome or fit if the individual for whom they are prescribed does not acknowledge they have a problem or more importantly want help. The worst outcomes are the fittings for life partners when the “hearing” person demands that their husband, wife is prescribed a device as they cannot hear. This is not a good starting point!

Potential Indicators

  • become anxious in social situations because you cannot hear what is said? 
  • frequently have to ask for repetition?
  • have trouble hearing when you are spoken to from another room?
  • feel that you hear sound but do not understand speech clearly?
  • feel that people are mumbling?
  • have trouble hearing when there is noise around you?
  • need to turn the radio or TV volume up to hear well?
  • have difficulty hearing women’s or children’s voices?
  • have to turn one ear toward the person speaking?
  • have trouble hearing when you can’t see the speaker’s face?
  • need to be close to the person speaking?
  • have to strain to hear?
  • frequently misunderstand what is said?
  • have ringing or buzzing in your ear(s)?
  • do not respond when spoken to?
  • turn the radio or TV volume up too high?
  • speak loudly or shout in conversation?
  • are missing what is being said?
  • do not hear sounds coming from behind you?
  • have had a change in your speech?

Hearing loss is a sudden decrease in how well you can hear. Gradual hearing loss can affect people of all ages – and depending on the cause, can be mild, moderate, severe or a profound temporary or permanent.

Congenital hearing loss means you are born without hearing, while gradual hearing loss happens over time.

Hearing loss is an invisible condition; we cannot see hearing loss, only its effects. Because the presence of a hearing loss is not visible, these effects may be attributed to aloofness, confusion, or personality changes.

This is one of my favourite pictures as it demonstrates 2 things. First the failure of modern technology despite what the hearing aid companies tell us and secondly the desperate need to wear a device without using an excuse not to wear it and this is a man’s device. He told me the only answer to the wind noise on the Langebaan golf course was this material he used to wrap around his hearing aid!

In adults, the most common causes of hearing loss are noise and ageing. It is important to realise hearing loss is normal as we age and will affect us all.

There is a strong relationship between age and reported hearing loss. In age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, changes in the inner ear and brain at all levels that happen as one gets older causing a slow but steadily progressive hearing loss. The loss may be mild or severe, and it is always permanent. The good news is that it is usually aidable.

Noise-induced hearing loss may happen slowly over time or suddenly. Being exposed to everyday noises, such as listening to very loud music, being in a noisy work environment, or even using a lawn mower, can lead to hearing loss over many years. Sudden, noise-induced hearing loss from gunfire and explosions is the number one disability caused by combat or training. More often than not severe tinnitus (or ringing in the ears) will accompany the hearing loss and may be just as debilitating as the hearing loss itself.

In older people, a hearing loss is often confused with, or complicates, conditions such as dementia. Hearing correction with hearing aids seems to help delay the progression of dementia.

Other causes of hearing loss include earwax buildup, an object in the ear, injury to the ear or head, ear infection, ruptured eardrum, and other conditions that affect the middle ear or inner ear. Ears should be clear of wax and debris before hearing testing is performed. Hard to believe but this is often overlooked!