COMMON QUESTIONS AND MY ANSWERS
|Are you officially qualified to supply &
fit digital hearing aids?
|I am certainly fully
qualified. For full details please click on my photo
Do I really have a hearing problem?
|Only a hearing
evaluation will be able to
answer this question accurately. However signs of hearing loss can
If you aren't sure if you have a hearing problem, why
ask your wife/husband or a friend? Other people will often notice that
you have a mild hearing problem some time before you notice it yourself.
- The world seems to be getting generally
- You say "Pardon?"
often than you would like
- Your friends & family say that
they often need to repeat themselves
- You turn up the TV or radio louder than
some other people like
- Conversations in groups can be hard to
- Conversation in the presence of background
noise can be difficult
- Some female voices can be especially hard
- Children's voices can be difficult to
- Other people often seem to mumble
- You can no longer hear birds singing or
- Some voices are definitely loud enough -
but are nevertheless hard to understand
- Some sounds like "sh",
"ss", th", "ff" seem difficult to hear
- You can find it difficult to determine
where some sounds are coming from
- You are happier if you can SEE the face of
- You sometimes don't notice the doorbell or
the phone ringing
- You sometimes miss someone calling from
- You find it a bit difficult to hear on the
- You find cinemas, pubs, restaurants and
meetings less enjoyable than in the past
- You can follow voices for a while - but
suddenly you get tired and "lose the thread"
- You tend to turn one specific ear towards
the person you are speaking to
Could "ear wax" be causing my hearing problems?
|Ear wax blockages can
certainly cause a mild
loss. In a very few cases, such as ear wax mixed up with cement dust or
sawdust, the wax can cause a major hearing loss. I will check your ears
for any wax blockage at the start of the hearing evaluation. If you do
have a wax blockage then I will recommend that you visit the Practice
Nurse at your local GP to have your ears cleared. Or you can ask me to remove the wax for you, using my micro-suction system. You may then find
that your hearing has returned to being 100% normal! However I don't
want to raise your hopes too much: ear wax does not
usually cause much of an acoustic blockage, so it is quite likely that
a hearing test will reveal a hearing loss even after any wax has been
|My hearing is worse in the
evenings - is this normal?
|Your hearing can be good
early in the day
when you are
full of energy - but your hearing may "fade" a little bit in the
evenings. This is quite normal - but if you have any doubts a hearing
evaluation might be wise.
|Will I definitely need a hearing
aid if I have a mild loss?
It is quite possible that a hearing test could show that you do
indeed have a mild hearing loss. Many people are very sensitive to even a mild hearing loss. However even if you can survive day-to-day without hearing aids, scientific research released
in 2019 has shown that use of hearing aids can help delay the effects of dementia. Please let me know of you would like further information.
|Is hearing loss very common?
|If you have a hearing
loss, you are not
alone. Around one
in ten people have some degree of hearing loss. Luckily, around 90% of
these people can be helped through the use of hearing aids. More than
50% of people over 60 have some degree of hearing loss.
However .... only one in three of these who could benefit from a hearing aid
actually has one.
of hearing loss are there?
are two major types of hearing loss:
The most common hearing problem is often called "nerve hearing loss. It
relates to damage and "wear & tear" to the
nerve sensors in the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss can be
caused by things such as ageing, prenatal and birth-related problems,
viral and bacterial infections, genetics, trauma (such as a severe blow
to the head), exposure to loud noises, or the use of certain drugs.
Sensorineural hearing loss is rarely repaired surgically - it is
usually corrected with a hearing aid.
This is a relatively rare problem which involves the outer and middle
ear. It is
essentially a mechanical
problem - the sound entering the ear is for some reason blocked or
attenuated before it reaches the nerve sensors in the inner ear.
Conductive hearing loss usually results from a wax blockage, a
punctured eardrum, birth defects, ear infections, or it may be genetic.
A common cause is the ear problem called otosclerosis.
Conductive hearing loss generally can be corrected surgically
or with a
Note: A combination of these two hearing losses is often called a
"Mixed Hearing Loss".
|Am I deaf?
|Relatively few people
For most people
it's simply a case of a relatively minor hearing loss making
speech a bit awkward to follow - especially in the presence of
background noise. Often for someone who has a
hearing loss a small amount of high-tech
hearing boost can
greatly improve the understanding of speech. A mild hearing loss is a
world away from total deafness - but it can nevertheless still be a real nuisance.
|Can an untreated hearing loss lead to problems?
|A hearing loss which
makes it difficult to
understand speech can "creep up" on people over a period of some years.
An untreated hearing loss
can lead to the sufferer gradually giving up sports, hobbies, group
social events and so on. In bad cases the sufferer can become
very isolated, frustrated, angry and depressed. It might take some
years before anyone realises that a hearing problem is the underlying
cause. On top of this, research released in 2019 suggests that use of hearing aids can help delay the effects of dementia.
|My child has a hearing problem -
can you help?
|I'm sorry, I don't
accept clients who are
under 18 years
old. The provision of hearing aids to young people and to children is a
very specialist task which I feel is best left to the NHS.
|Should I get my hearing aids from
|I certainly recommend
that you try to obtain
aid from the NHS ... after all, it's what you pay your taxes and
National Insurance for! The NHS now also provides digital hearing aids,
which is a big step forward. However please be aware of the
following if you decide to take the NHS route:
- It can take quite a time to to
obtain an NHS hearing aid
- Follow-up, adjustment & repair
appointments can be difficult to arrange
- Each fitting session with the NHS can be
quite short. They don't have a lot of time for detailed fine-tuning etc
- The NHS will usually only provide a BTE
(Behind The Ear) hearing aid. They rarely fit ITE (In The Ear) hearing
- The NHS will often provide just a single
hearing aid - even if you might be better served with a pair of hearing
- The NHS has a limited range of hearing aid
available - but you may want a smaller model or a more modern version
with lots of advanced features
- You might see a different person on each
|Why should I consider "going
|In an ideal world you
should be able to
hearing aids promptly via the NHS. Sadly, as noted above, the real life
situation is not so rosy. I feel that the main reasons for obtaining
hearing aids privately include:
- You could be up-and-running with new hearing aids within a few days.
In some cases you could be fitted with new hearing aids on the day of
your hearing test at my practice!
of high-tech ultra-discreet Behind-The-Ear models - I can
offer very discreet Behind-The-Ear
models such as Open
Fitting and Loudspeaker
In the Ear models in addition to the
that the NHS
of In-The-Ear models - I can offer discreet In-The-Ear
models in addition to the bulkier Behind-The-Ear models that the NHS
range of products
- I can provide a wide range of models, some of which may be ideally
suited to your personal requirements. For example, some leading
products now have offer features such as advanced noise
suppression, "artificial intelligence", FM radio links, Bluetooth radio links, tinnitus maskers, "open
remote controls etc. In comparison, the NHS offers a very limited range
of pairs of hearing aids
- Even if you would be better off with a pair of hearing aids, the NHS
sometimes will only provide a single unit. I will recommend a pair of
hearing aids should your hearing test results indicate that this would
cosmetics - You can choose the colour and style of the
hearing aids to suit your hair style & complexion
counselling and fine-tuning
- Each evaluation or fine-tuning visit to me lasts around an hour or so
as I want to make sure that your evaluation if carried out correctly
& accurately. I also want to ensure that any fine-tuning fits in
with your needs
exactly as possible. Sadly NHS staff simply don't always have enough
provide this level of service.
same face every time!
- For better or for worse, you will see the same person on each of your
visits to my practice i.e. me, Richard Hathway. In addition
to loving the digital technology I work with, I also love meeting new
are new to the
exciting world of private sector hearing
aids, here is a tip for you: As a very rough guide you should expect
to pay around £1800-£3200 for a pair of hearing aids when
bought from our dispensing practice. This
may sound like a lot of money (and sadly it is) - but you
will be getting
a decent quality digital aid probably for MUCH, MUCH
less than you
will be charged elsewhere. Please rest assured that we provide
service in addition to our good prices!
|Do you offer very low cost
"budget" hearing aids?
|I am usually reluctant
to provide very low
hearing aids. These models can be cheap - but you get what you pay for!
In my opinion, most active people need a hearing aid with directional
microphones and some noise reduction features. "Budget" hearing
aids are usually too basic to offer these vital features. However I do
find that "budget" hearing aids are suitable in the following
If your budget won't stretch to decent private
sector hearing aids then I really would recommend taking the NHS route. Their
hearing aids might be hard to obtain ... but they are of adequate
quality for restricted lifestyles.
- As emergency
spares for a decent pair of hearing aids:"Budget"
aids could "save the day" if your main hearing aids are
damaged or are lost - especially on holiday!
use by people who are housebound etc:
aids might be usable if someone spends all their time in
a very quiet environment
I am talking to another dispenser, but they seem very expensive. Can I have
a "second opinion" from you?
|If you have completely broken ties with the other dispnser I would be happy to see you. However if you have a pending
dispenser, or you are trialling a hearing aid, or you have just bought
a hearing aid but are thinking of asking for your money back then you
are effectively a current customer of that dispenser.
For ethical reasons it is not right for me to take on a new client who
is still working in any way with another dispenser.
I can only take on new customers who have absolutely no current active
involvement with another dispenser.
If you contact me whilst you are actively working with another
dispenser I will have absolutely no choice except to refuse any further
contact with you now, or at any time in the future. Quite
correctly, the other dispenser would have grounds to accuse me of
unethical behaviour if I accepted you as a client. I make absolutely no
exceptions to this rule so do NOT contact me if you are currently working in any
way whatsoever with another dispenser.
|I have an old "analogue"
hearing aid. How are the new "digital" hearing aids different?
|Analogue hearing aids
were often very basic.
were essentially a microphone connected to an amplifier which then
blasts the sound out of a small loudspeaker into the ear. This can lead
to annoying unwanted quiet sounds becoming audible, and to loud sounds
being over amplified so that they become painful. Many analogue hearing
aid users take out their hearing aids when they are in noisy places
because they can become much too loud. Analogue hearing aids can also
very prone to feedback "whistles". I feel that the old analogue hearing
aid designs have not been a wonderful success overall.
Digital hearing aids work very differently: the microphone signal is
converted to a stream of numbers, which are fed into a tiny digital
computer. This computer and its programs can
process this stream of
numbers to correct your hearing loss, reduce disturbing noises, to
enhance speech sounds, to prevent over-loud sounds, to reduce or
eliminate feedback "whistles" and so on. The computer and its
processing software can in fact consist of VERY advanced technology.
The computer then feeds the processed sound signals into a small
loudspeaker for the user to hear.
|Are hearing aids still huge pink
horrors like my granny used to wear?
|Definitely not! Modern
digital hearing aids
& discreet. Many can be almost invisible. Even the high power
needed by the severely hard-of-hearing can be a lot smaller than they
used to be.
had hearing aids which whistled all the time - is there any way of
|The analogue hearing
aids from the past were
were essentially a microphone connected to an amplifier which then
blasted the sound out of a small loudspeaker into the ear. With this
old design, any accidental sound leakage from the loudspeaker back to
the microphone would be boosted (again!) which could result in
"howl around". You can see (hear!) the same effect on a stage where the
host gets his/her microphone too near one of the loudspeakers. However
modern digital hearing aids are often packed full of clever
computer software which is specially designed to "kill" any whistling
or feedback within a fraction of a second. Feedback and whistling are
much less of a nuisance nowadays.
|The "head in a barrel" or "head
in a bucket" problem.(The
|Many users of older
style or poorly fitted
hearing aids complain about the world sounding like they have their
heads stuck in a barrel or in a bucket. This effect is caused by the
deep low-frequency sounds of your own voice, and the sounds of
your eating food, travelling through the bones of your skull
into the ear canal. Normally these loud sounds simply fly out of the
ear canal so you don't notice them ... BUT ... if you are wearing a
hearing aid the sounds can be trapped in the ear canal by the blockage
caused by the hearing aid. This can lead to the boomy sounds of your
own voice seeming VERY loud. This is called the "occlusion effect". It
affects mainly those people who still have good hearing in the low bass
frequencies, but who wear a hearing aid simply to boost the higher
treble frequencies. In the past, holes called "vents" have been built
into hearing aids in an attempt to limit the occlusion effect ... not
always totally successfully. Luckily with modern Open
and Loudspeaker In The Ear
models this problem
can usually be solved.
|Can I use a discreet ITE
(In-The-Ear) hearing aid - or will I need to wear an
(Behind-The-Ear) hearing aid?
|In the past this was a
very valid question.
very recently the traditional Behind-The-Ear hearing aids have been
rather bulky and ugly: many NHS aids are in this format.
In view of this many people preferred to "go private" in order to
obtain a more discreet In-The-Ear hearing aid.
However the hearing aid world has changed recently ... the
new very discreet tiny Loudspeaker
In The Ear models, hidden behind
can be used to assist a wide range of hearing losses.
The need for In-The-Ear hearing aid styles has been greatly reduced.
However most people can still be fitted with In-The-Ear
hearing aids if preferred.
Note: If you have a severe hearing loss then
a Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aid might be more suitable. A
might also be recommended if you have very small ear canals or if you
have sensitive skin.
| What styles of In-The-ear
hearing aids are available?
|There are various styles
/ sizes of
aids available ranging from the tiny CIC (Completely In The Canal)
models to the larger Full-Shell models. The pictures
below show the various ITE styles available and
also a BTE (Behind The Ear) model for comparison:
Here is a similar set of views:
Full Shell / ITE / In-The-Ear: The
largest style is the Full-Shell or "ITE" style. It is used with
high power hearing aids because it gives a good sound seal which reduce
the feedback risk. This style fills most of the ear bowl.
This size often has a volume control and a program
Anyone with reasonable dexterity can handle
these models -
and they might also be usable by those with poor dexterity.
Note: The term ITE
is often used to refer to any sort of hearing aid which fits in the
ear, in addition to referring to this specific size. The terms Full
Shell and Half Shell can be more helpful terms.
Half Shell / ITC /
This is a small hearing aid which does not fill the whole ear bowl. The
surface of the aid is usually just outside the entrance to the ear
canal. This style is easy to handle, is fairly discreet and usually
allows directional microphones to be fitted. This small size does not
usually have a volume control but may have a small program button
fitted. Anyone with reasonable dexterity can handle
MIC / Micro-Canal /
Mini-Canal (no picture shown) :
A slightly smaller variant of the ITC style is called the
"micro-canal" or "mini-canal" style. This can be used if more
discretion is desired - although you then cannot usually have any
controls mounted on the hearing aid due to its small size. You need
fairly good dexterity to handle these small models.
CIC / Completely In
the Canal: This
is a very small model which fits entirely in the ear canal. Some can be
very difficult to see, although many are still noticeable despite their
small size. (These can also be called IIC aids - "Invisible In The Canal")
2019 UPDATE: Instant fit CIC/IIC styles
have now arrived! These aids
can work well - and require no resin impression. You can simply take them away with you on the day of your hearing evaluation!
|What is an "ear-mould"?
|Most traditional BTE
hearing aids are simply a slim electronic package which rests behind
The BTE needs a way of channelling the sound into your ear. This is
achieved via a "sound-pipe" connected to an "ear-mould".
The ear-mould is usually a fairly bulky
acrylic frame or clip which is
custom made from a resin impression made of your ear. The ear-mould has
a tip which rests in the ear canal and which carries the sound into
The hearing aid contains a tiny loudspeaker which sends sound
to the ear-mould through a short piece of plastic pipe.
The picture below shows a Phonak BTE hearing aid connected to a
sound-pipe which then attaches to the ear-mould.:
The BTE hearing aid is then placed behind the ear and
the ear-mould placed in the ear bowl as shown below:
The NHS & some private dispensers can still
this style of bulky fitting. However the arrival of the latest
very small Open
Fitting and Loudspeaker
In The Ear hearing aid models
is changing this. Traditional bulky & highly visible ear-moulds
being steadily displaced by the tiny often invisible domes used with
the new styles of hearing aid.
|Will I need one or two hearing
|If you have one very
good ear or one very
bad ear then
you might need just a single hearing aid to help with the other "not so
good" ear. However if your hearing loss is roughly the same on each
side then you could be recommended to obtain two hearing aids. There are
many benefits from using a pair of hearing aids, including:
- Balanced hearing sensation
- Reduced risk of "auditory deprivation" of
an unaided ear
- Improved directional sensing of where
sounds are coming from
- Improved understanding of speech,
especially in noisy situations
- Balanced "all-round" hearing in a car
- Balanced "all-round" hearing in a
restaurant or pub
- No need to turn your head to focus on a
|Can I insist of having just one
hearing aid, even if you recommend that I have two?
|Of course - "the
customer is always right"
as they say!
Many people are happier with a single hearing aid, even if technically
they should wear a pair. However you should be aware that aiding a
when both should be aided, can possibly lead to "auditory deprivation"
unaided ear. This means that the unaided ear could slowly "go to sleep"
and become less effective over a period of months or years. It is
unclear whether this is a temporary or
permanent effect - but please be aware of the possible risk.
|Would using a single
top-quality hearing aid be as effective as using a pair of
slightly lower cost hearing aids?
|If you have been advised
to use a pair of
then it would usually be much better to buy a pair of medium-quality
aids rather than a single super-quality hearing aid. The benefits of
having TWO working ears will usually greatly exceed the benefit of
single hearing aid.
|I have one
totally "dead" ear - is there anything available that can help?
|If you have a dead ear,
you may suffer from
shadow" effect where you miss someone speaking on your dead side. If
you spend most of your time in rooms which have hard walls which
reflect sound then you may hear almost everything that goes on, through
your good ear. However outside or in restaurants etc you may well miss
most of what happens on your dead side. There is a possible solution to
this annoying problem: you could wear a CROS or biCROS system where a
hearing aid sends sound via a radio link from your bad side to a
hearing aid on your better ear. If you are interested in a CROS system
please contact us. (Modern CROS systems can be very effective and are also quite discreet)
|What are "loops" or
|Hearing aids can be
fitted with a "loop" or
(This is in fact a very tiny coil of wire which acts like a radio
Some theatres, churches, cinemas and banks have special equipment to
send out a special wireless signal to carry the microphone signal or
film sound track to nearby hearing aids.
The loop in the hearing aid then picks up this wireless signal and
plays it into your ear. Note that the hearing aid microphone is NOT
used to pick up the sound - it comes from the wireless signal.
This technique can be useful - for example, the sound in a theatre can
be very hard to hear ... but it can be very clear and crisp when
received via the wireless loop signal.
Places which have a loop system installed usually show this symbol:
Please be aware however that maybe 50% of these systems
are faulty or not turned on, so don't be too surprised if you can't
pick up any signal!
The loop system in a hearing aid can also be used with a variety of
accessories such as gadgets which help you use a mobile phone.
The hearing aid will need a special program - or sometimes a little
switch or button - to allow "loop mode" to be selected.
Note: Some smaller hearing aid models might not have the space
internally to allow a loop signal receiver to be fitted.
|Do you offer a "home visit"
|I regret that I do not
offer a "home visit"
find that I have too much equipment to transport around in the back of
a car. Additionally, I do feel that the acoustic environment
house or flat is not always suitable for taking hearing tests or for
fine-tuning hearing aids. I really do feel that clients should visit a
dedicated office, such as
my practice, rather than deal with someone operating
from the back of a car.
course, if you are housebound then you WILL need the services of a
mobile dispenser - but please be aware that their prices might be
significantly higher than mine.
I have see some newspaper adverts for spectacles built into hearing aids.
What are they exactly?
|I too have seen adverts for spectacles with
built-in hearing aids.
This is in fact quite an old idea - early hearing aids were quite bulky
and so it was useful to be able to hide the components inside the arms
of a pair of spectacles.
Little sound tubes mounted on the arms carried the amplified sound into
the ears. This system however has some disadvantages:
The arrival of small modern high tech digital hearing
aids seems to have relegated spectacle hearing aids to history.
- The spectacles can be very bulky
- If you take off the spectacles you lose
your hearing too!
- If you need a repair of EITHER part you
will lose BOTH hearing & sight!
(I couldn't find a picture to use here - which hints at how common this
style of spectacle hearing aids is!)
There is however one spectacle hearing aid style which has benefits for
a limited number of users - "bone conduction spectacles" such
the Evo-1. This
mechanical vibrators to send sound waves into the skull, rather than
through the usual route of the ear canals. Again,
these can be bulky devices as the
picture below shows:
These bone conduction models can however be extremely useful in the
fairly rare cases where:
I have only ever had one or two serious
enquiries about hearing aid spectacles, which shows how
popular they are nowadays.
- The user has a significant conductive loss
(a minority of people)
- The user has a history of eczema or
similar ailment where nothing in the ear canal be tolerated
- The user has a damaged ear canal which
cannot accept a normal hearing aid
In my opinion relatively few people are
candidates for any sort of hearing aid spectacles - and yet they
are sometimes heavily advertised in the daily newspapers. I assume that
the adverts are intended to attract new customers who will then be
sold standard modern - and probably expensive - hearing aids.
|What do you think of those
low-priced "Two For One"
and "50% Off"
offers that are advertised by some big High Street chains?
|I admit that when I
first saw these adverts I
panicked - I
thought that these companies had beaten even my very low prices!
checked their websites and soon found that they offer a "range" of
products. The lowest prices seem to be for obsolete models or for low
hearing aids of the type that I would rather not provide. You have to
pay rather more for their more advanced & useful models.
Their advertising is indeed very effective - but I strongly believe
that I offer much better value for money and a much more personal
service overall. I also believe that, being independent, I can offer a
much wider range of products. You also need to check what level of
aftercare they provide - I have heard that many of their outlets are
part-time ... BUT ... they still charge luxury prices!
|How can I
remove any ear wax?
|I very strongly
recommend that you get your
professionally examined if you suspect that you have a wax blockage,
just to make sure. If a wax problem is confirmed the your doctor can remove it. Alternatively I can remove it for you as I now operate an in-house wax removal service - please telephone for details.
recommend any specific DIY removal technique I would
use "cotton buds". Certainly do NOT use bits of wire,
paper clips etc to clean your ears! GPs often recommend the use of
olive oil to soften ear wax ... but check with your GP's practice first
before doing this.
of the purchase price, hearing aids are usually guaranteed against
caused by manufacturing or component faults for a period of two or three years -
one year for a few models. These warranties will NOT protect against
fire, loss or accidental damage.
manufacturers sell "extended warranties"
which can add one to three years to the basic free warranty period. These warranties
will NOT protect against theft, fire, loss or accidental damage.
no longer easy to buy special hearing aid insurance to protect against
loss or accidental damage. (Damage caused by swimming or showering or
avoidable situations whilst wearing the aid is NOT covered). We
simply add the hearing aid to your household insurance.
|Specific model or brands
already have a preference for a specific
hearing aid model, but can't see it in our price list, then
please ask us for a quotation - we can usually offer EXCELLENT pricing
on almost any model of digital hearing aid ... possibly even if it has
|The tiny loudspeaker
fitted to In-The-Ear
needs protection from being blocked up with wax. (A wax blockage can
damage the loudspeaker - and at the very least it will block the sound
output thus disabling the hearing aid). In order to prevent this
possible damage, many In-The-Ear hearing aids have a little protective
cover over the loudspeaker opening in order to prevent wax getting into
the mechanics. This cover is called a "wax trap" and is only about 1 mm
wide. Some wax traps are
devices permanently fitted to the hearing aid, but nowadays
tiny disposable plastic caps are often used, such as that
shown (greatly magnified!) below:
Most disposable wax traps look like a little white plastic dot on the
narrow point of the hearing aid.
The customer will
need to change the disposable wax trap every few weeks (or possibly
more often) because the little cap will eventually fill up with wax and
become unusable. Users of In-The-Ear hearing aids should allow a few
pounds a year to pay for packets of replacement disposable wax
traps. It is very easy for the user to remove an old wax trap
new one. Each manufacturer provides a simple tool for this task. The
diagram below shows how an Oticon NoWax disposable wax-trap is changed:
fresh wax-trap in a small "carrier" is taken from its "cartridge"
2: the old wax-trap is removed from the aid using a spike on
3: the new wax-trap is inserted into the hearing aid from the same
4: the carrier with the used wax-trap stuck on the spike is thrown away.
Some of the tiny loudspeakers used in Loudspeaker In
The Ear hearing aids (see below) also use wax traps.
The white dot on the end of the Loudspeaker In The Ear module below is
a wax trap.
(In order to allow the wax trap to be seen
have removed the small soft plastic dome
which is normally fitted over the module)
wax traps are used & changed in a very similar way as described
are these new "Open
Fitting" hearing aids I have heard about?
are these new RITE
(Receiver In The Ear) ... or SITE (Speaker In The Ear) ... or
CRT (Canal Receiver technology) hearing aids I
have heard about?
fitting" hearing aids are designed to overcome
"head in a barrel" or "occlusion effect" mentioned earlier. This style
of hearing aid boosts mainly the medium & high frequencies, but
allows the low bass frequencies to enter & leave the ear canal
The best versions seem to be a very tiny BTE (Behind The
Ear) device which feeds boosted high frequency sounds into the ear
through a very narrow and almost invisible sound pipe.
model is a good example of this
The RITE, SITE, CRT names all
refer to what I call Loudspeaker In The Ear
technology. These models look very much like Open
aids ... but instead of the thin plastic tube carrying sound from a
loudspeaker in the hearing aid, the tube carries a thin wire to drive a
tiny loudspeaker nestling in the ear canal.
Unlike the Open Fitting models,
which are limited to boosting high frequencies only, the Loudspeaker
In The Ear models can help with a much wider range
of hearing losses.
This Unitron model is a good example of this style.
Many people find
both these styles of hearing aid can often be invisible to others, and
comfortable to wear.
One excellent point is that both types of hearing
aid are built up to match your physical ear size etc from a standard
"kit", and so can usually be tried out on the day of your hearing test.
I have a
severe hearing loss - can you help?
|If you have had a severe
or profound hearing
many years then you should not necessarily expect huge benefits from
even top-end digital hearing aids.
You may have become very used to the "sound" of an early analogue
hearing aid model, so you might initially find the "sound" of a digital
hearing aid rather "odd".
The transition to using a modern digital hearing aid can bring benefits
- but the transition can also involve a lot of work. For this reason I
cannot recommend that you visit me for a powerful digital
aid unless you live reasonably close ... you will probably need several
fine-tuning visits before the hearing aid is set up the way you like.
What batteries do hearing aids
use? How long do they last? What do they cost? Where can I get them?
|Hearing aid batteries
come in 4 sizes, all roughly similar to aspirin tablets in shape & size.
You can buy hearing aid batteries from various places including Boots,
Tescos or from me.
A pack of 6 batteries costs around £3 - £4,
where you buy them.
A typical pack is shown below:
(Note: I am cheaper than most High Street
stores! See my spare parts website at:www.HearingAidSpares.com )
Hearing aid batteries typically last around one week, although the smaller
sizes can last around three days in some hearing aid models. This means
that a hearing aid can use £1 - £4 worth of
month. A pair of hearing aids can cost £2 - £8 in
The "shelf life" of batteries is over 12 months ... but I do not
recommend buying more than 12 months supply at any one time.
Frost or over-warm or damp storage can damage hearing aid batteries,
thus reducing their life, so store them carefully.
Hearing aid batteries use zinc-air technology which requires a small
paper tab to be removed before the battery starts working. Once this
tab has been removed, the shelf life of the battery will drop to 8
weeks ... so only remove the tab when you are about to use the battery
in a hearing aid! A close-up of a typical battery
with its tab still
attached is shown below:
Turn off - or remove the battery from - the hearing aid at night, in
order to save battery life.
Used hearing aid batteries are non-recyclable, so simply throw them
away when empty. Do NOT keep them "just in case" - you will simply
end up a stack of useless metal "tablets"!
|Can I use those VERY cheap
hearing aid batteries advertised on the Web?
|Only if you buy them
from my website at: www.HearingAidSpares.com
|How long do hearing aids last?
|Most hearing aids have a two or three year
manufacturer's warranty, which covers parts & labour for
I feel that BTE (Behind The ear) hearing aids can last around 5 - 8
ITE (In The Ear) hearing aids have to work in a nastier environment
(the ear!) so
you might expect a 3 - 5 year lifetime.
Note: You might
need some repairs during the life of your hearing aids.
hearing aid be repaired after the warranty has run out?
|Once your hearing aid
warranty has ended,
you will need
to pay for any required repairs. The cost for these repairs could range
from around £85 to £250. In extreme cases of
damage you may need to buy a complete new hearing aid - but if this
happens I can probably offer a HUGE discount on the replacement unit.
|What are the annual "running
costs" of hearing aids?
All-in-all you should allow for around
per year running costs per hearing aid.
- You should allow around £20 -
£40 per year per hearing aid for batteries.
- You should also allow £5 -
£20 per year
per hearing aid for wax-traps, if you have an In The Ear model.
- You should also allow £10 -
£20 per year per
for replacement tubing & domes, if you have an Open Fitting model.
- You should also allow £25 -
£125 per year per
for replacement loudspeakers & domes, if you have a Loudspeaker
In The Ear model.
- You would be wise to allow say
£125 every 2-years for repeat
hearing tests and a fine-tuning session.
- You should also allow for say
£50 per year for repairs once
the 2 year warranty period is over.
lots of "bands" or "channels" important?
|Digital hearing aids
often process sound
distinct frequency "bands" or "channels". For many people three to six
are sufficient to accurately match their hearing
For more unusual hearing losses more bands can be helpful - some
premium hearing aids can offer 20 or more bands! These work in a
similar way to the "equalisers" that some stereos have. I feel that 16
bands are totally adequate for almost every type of hearing loss. In
fact I feel that anything over 16 bands can be more of a
feature than a true benefit - unless these extra bands are especially
intended to improve background noise reduction. Going the other way, I
feel that the one or two bands offered by many low cost hearing aids
can make fine-tuning of
these hearing aids rather difficult - or even impossible.
digital hearing aids seem to have several "programs". What are these?
|Digital hearing aids can
be used in
different acoustic situations, for example:
Each of these situations requires different audio
processing in the
digital hearing aid software. For example, you need less voice
enhancement but more treble and bass enhancement when listening to
- In quiet rooms
(this would be your normal setting)
- In noisy
- With a telephone
- When listening to
Many digital hearing aids can be set up to offer a selection of 2 or 3
different "programs" to cover some of these special situations. I will
discuss which options you would prefer when I program the hearing aid
to your specific settings.
You can then select the program you want to use by pressing a tiny
button on the hearing aid. This button will allow you to step through
the programs to find the one you want. For example, 2 presses might get
you to the "music program". You would select this when watching TV or
listening to the stereo. A couple more presses would cycle you back to
the standard "quiet room" program.
Note: All top-end digital hearing aids now have "acoustic scene
analysis" which will AUTOMATICALLY select the best program for you.
However you may still need some manually selected programs because the
hearing aid software is not usually clever enough to
you are using a phone or listening to music.
Most top-end aids also have remote controls available so that you need
not touch the hearing aids to switch the program.
aids have volume controls?
|It is no longer usual to
controls on hearing
aids nowadays. The new digital processors have automatic volume
controls which work quite well. However if you really would like a
volume control, then I can usually arrange for one to be fitted ... as
long as there is space available on the hearing aid.
Some top-end hearing aids also allow the volume to be adjusted via a
small remote control unit.
leading hearing aids have "directional
microphones". Are these important to have?
are very, very important!
they may be the most important feature of any
allow hearing aids to focus on sounds coming from in front of
you, and they can reduce unwanted sounds from the sides and from
This can improve your understanding of speech greatly,
especially in noisy places.
I rarely recommend hearing aids without
directional microphones, because I feel that the benefits of these
microphones are so important. The diagram below shows how a hearing aid
in directional mode picks up more sound from the front than the rear or
The latest top-end hearing aids have an extra trick up their sleeve:
they can steer their directional microphones electronically in order to
track voices and to avoid noise sources.
the standard NHS beige / "flesh"
hearing aid colour. Are there any alternatives?"
|I can provide hearing
aids in a variety of
Grey, beige, marble grey, black and metallic silver are the most
choices ... although I know of one person who chose RED
hearing aids! Shown below is a manufacturer's typical range of colours.
In this case it shows a Phonak BTE in Palladium/Silver and with a set
"buttons" showing the other available colours for this model:
|I can't reach you during normal working hours. Are you
available in the evenings or at weekends?
|I am usually arrange
appointments from 8:30 AM -
However I am happy to arrange appointments at other times: 6AM
or 10PM are fine too!
Please let me know if you have
problems reaching me during normal working hours ... I'm sure that we
can work out a suitable time for your visit.
digital hearing aids claim to use "Artificial
Intelligence". What does this mean?
|The very latest top-end
digital hearing aid
special advanced software to determine if you are in a quiet or a noisy
environment. The hearing aid software then configures itself to perform
the specific environment you find yourself in.
For example, the directional microphones can be turned on or off
Special noise reduction features can also be turned on
off fully automatically.
This new technology saves you pushing a "mode" button on the hearing
aid as you move from a quiet environment to a noisy environment, or
These new automatic features are given fancy marketing names such as
or the more accurate phrase "Acoustic
you a totally independent supplier - or are you
part of one of those "chains"?
|I am totally independent
and I have no
connection with any impersonal national "chain".
I offer most brands of hearing aid - although I obviously try to avoid
"budget" models or models which I feel are over-priced or which don't
seem to work very well.
believe that some hearing aids have "remote
controls". What are these for?
|Various digital hearing
be provided with small remote control units.
of the later top-end aids have very fancy colour LCD remote controls
which are essential for the operation of the various wireless features
available with these top-end aids.
These remote controls allow you to change the hearing aid
or the currently selected hearing aid program WITHOUT having to touch
the controls mounted on the hearing aids. For example, Phonak offers
its tiny KeyPilot remote control for use with mid-range models:
I don't feel that these remote controls are quite so useful if you have
one hearing aid ... BUT ... if you have a PAIR of hearing aids they can
indeed be useful. It can look very undignified if you are sitting in a
then you suddenly stick a finger in each ear to adjust the hearing aid
volume or program! A remote control allows you to make these changes
Note: As of 2019 many hearing aids can be remotely controlled from a Smartphone app.
have had a quote from another dispenser for an
expensive premium model. Do I REALLY need to get an expensive top-end
|I specialise in supplying top-end products - at a fair price, so there is no real need to look at middle-of-the-road products.
If you are talking to another
recommend who suggests that
you purchase a top-end product, there may be a perfectly valid reason
for his recommendation.
Be aware however that you may be expected to pay a substantial amount for their top-end offerings.
I normally recommend the expensive all-singing all-dancing
models to people who lead very busy & difficult lives such as
Managing Directors, jet-setters and so on.
People who are very focussed on high-quality products also can be keen
to obtain the best products on the market.
you are looking for a top-end product and top service please get in
touch - I specialise in supplying top-end models at very competitive
Note: If you have a challenging life, but you no longer spend much time in
meetings or travelling around the world then a mid-range model would
probably be perfectly OK - and they are not as expensive as the top-end
products. My pricing for mid-range models can be very competitive!
long does it usually take from my first visit to
your office to getting my new hearing aids?
|If you are
supplied with Open
or Loudspeaker In The Ear
digital hearing aids, you usually take away working hearing aids on
the day of your hearing test.
If you need a custom In-The-Ear hearing aid, or a custom
for use with a Behind-The-Ear hearing aid, then I have to take
impressions of your ears using a soft resin. I then have to send these
impressions away to get your custom hearing aid or ear-mould made. Your
new hearing aid or ear-mould then comes back in around two weeks.
have a hearing loss - should I wear my hearing aids
when doing noisy things such as mowing the lawn, cutting wood or
strimming the grass?
|Everyone should wear
HEARING PROTECTION when
working with loud equipment!
You should NOT be wearing hearing aids - they are NOT hearing
If you have a hearing loss then it is even more important to protect
your hearing against further damage!
Note: We can provide high-tech in-the-ear noise protection to people
who shoot or who operate noisy machinery.
| I have
ringing in my ears (tinnitus) - do you have any suggestions?
|If you develop tinnitus
(ringing in the
on just one side, or if it "pulses", or if it is distressing then you
should visit your GP. Minor tinnitus is quite common - but if you have very
loud tinnitus then you might need to seek specialist advice. The British
Tinnitus Association might be able to help.
the medical situation has
checked, and if you have any sort of hearing loss, you might find
that a hearing aid might provide sufficient "real world" sound to mask
the tinnitus. Some modern hearing aids can even provide a special noise
generator designed to help reduce the effects of tinnitus.
any alternatives to hearing aids?
|There are several ways
of making your life
easier if you are hard of hearing. Some examples:
- Use a TV which can show text subtitles
- Buy an amplified telephone
- Learn "hearing tactics" such as getting in
acoustic position to pick up sound, or in a bright place in order to
assist with a bit of lip-reading.
- Consider buying some useful Assistive
Devices such as vibrating alarm clocks, telecoil systems for your
mobile phone, door bells which flash lights etc.
eczema in my ears. Can I still be fitted with a hearing aid?
|Eczema can be a problem
with hearing aids
... hearing aids can in some cases cause flare-ups or infections.
The new Open
Fitting and Loudspeaker
Ear behind-the-ear models
can be very useful
in such cases, as the part
that goes into the ear is very small and light, and also allows the ear
I would certainly not recommend
an In-The-Ear hearing aid in
severe eczema cases.
A traditional behind-the-ear hearing aid with a custom plastic ear-mould
might be OK ... but it would be wise to consider using a
ear-mould for the best results.
|I have diabetes - will that
affect my hearing?
|If you have severe
Type One diabetes which is causing
problems such as peripheral neuropathy
then it is quite likely that your hearing will be affected too. For
milder Type Two diabetes the jury is still out - hearing problems may occur but
this is not yet proven.
Diabetes also creates other problems. Specifically the ear canal can
become very sensitive to scratches & scrapes which can lead to
infections. Hearing aid users with diabetes need to ensure that they
keep their ears and their hearing aids spotlessly clean in order to
|I have a relative with
dementia - and maybe with a hearing loss too.
I arrange for a hearing test and maybe for hearing aids to be fitted?
|Research released in 2019 indicates that use of hearing aids can delay the effects of dementia. However the situation is less clear once dementia has developoed to a serious level. Your first step should
be to seek medical
advice. Your relative will definitely need to have their ears checked
- perhaps there is a treatable infection or a wax build-up? (One
suggests that 10% of hearing loss in this situation can be rectified by
removal of wax) A hearing test would also be advisable - but it could
prove difficult to carry out in some cases. I have tried to find a
definitive answer to whether people with dementia benefit from the use
of hearing aids. I had suspected that it would be a good idea to ensure
that people suffering from dementia should not be allowed to become
more isolated due to a hearing problem. Sadly there does not seem to be
a clear view on this. However the
mentioned above suggests that 42% of dementia sufferers could benefit
from the use of hearing aids. Overall, the articles that I
Essentially you need to seek expert medical advice and
might simply need to try out a hearing aid on a case-by-case basis in
order to see if there is any benefit to the user and/or the carers.
- Existing hearing aid users need to be
carefully and their hearing aids kept clean & well maintained.
Medical advice should be sought if the patient's hearing seems to be
- Fitting a new hearing for the first time
with dementia can be difficult, due to their slow learning skills and
also because they can find amplified sounds annoying or difficult to
- As dementia worsens, the hearing aid user
might find it difficult to operate the aid or keep it in place.
- Hearing aids which over amplify background
irritate people suffering from dementia ... this might be an indication
that hearing aids with advanced noise reduction could be helpful - or
that hearing aids should not be used at all.
|I have had major surgery on
my ears - will this be a problem?
|Please discuss this with
appointment. Some ear surgery can make the fitting of hearing aids very
difficult or even impossible.
|I have a perforated eardrum -
will this be a problem?
|I might be able to fit a hearing aid in such cases - but please
discuss this with me before
|Do you offer any form of credit or stage-payment scheme?
|Sorry, I don't run this
sort of scheme - the
fees and paperwork for my business would simply be too much.
|Can I pay for my hearing aids with a credit or debit
|Yes, I can now accept
Credit & Debit cards.
|What do other people in the
hearing aid business think of your low prices?
|Hmm - good question. I
suspect that the
majority of other
dispensers in the UK would like me to take up another career! I can find
attending industry trades show & other gatherings a bit
I need to buy a flak jacket!
Nevertheless quite a few people in the
told me "off the record" that they have no problem with my low prices.
They realise that in every industry some suppliers charge top-end
prices, the majority charge medium-level prices ... and there are
always a few who charge lower-than-average prices. I fall into the
low-price category - but I also provide an excellent service.
Most (but not all) of the hearing aid manufacturers are very supportive
of my low prices. They are fed up with handfuls of hearing aids being
sold at exorbitant prices. They would prefer the retail price of
hearing aids to fall, so that sales volumes increase. This would result
in more of the hard-of-hearing being able to purchase decent hearing
aids at fair prices. It would also increase manufacturers' production
allowing them to reduce their prices and also to invest more in
research. High retail prices for digital hearing aids can be seen to be
very unhelpful to hearing aid users for a variety of reasons.
manufacturer Managing Director has even said that my low pricing has
forced most other suppliers in the UK to lower their prices too!
|Why is your website design so
|I want to keep my prices
low so I can't
afford to spend
too much on my website. I have been quoted around £20000 for
super-duper modern stylish website design ... which is roughly
£19990 more than I would like to spend! Luckily I have the
to build and maintain my own website - but sadly I am a bit weak in the
artistic skills department! Nevertheless I think that I manage to get
message across ... and a good side effect of having a basic website is
that it can load much more quickly than many "fancy" websites.
This in fact has worked out well - the relatively simple & clean
design of my website works well with the latest mobile phones and
tablet devices! You may notice that recently my web pages can be
tall-and-thin rather than wide-and-short. This is a result of the major
web search engines penalising web sites which have wide web pages.
|How many visits will I need
to make to your practice?
Most of my customers choose an Open
or a Loudspeaker In The Ear
hearing aid. If you take this route then the timetable is as follows:
If you want or need In-The-Ear hearing aids or
"chunky" Behind-The-Ear hearing aids with custom plastic ear-moulds then
I will need to take resin impressions of your ears. In this case:
- You will need to make an initial visit for
a hearing evaluation and hearing test. This will last around one hour.
(If you have a
I might need to send you to your GP in order to have your ears
syringed, which will hold up the process)
Or you can ask me to remove the wax for you, using my micro-suction system.
If you decide to buy or trial a hearing aid I will fit &
program them immediately - this takes about one hour.
- You will come back for a
second free "follow-up" visit around three to six weeks later. This
visit will last
- In the
event of further retuning etc being needed you might need to make a few
more visits over the next few weeks.
- You will need to make an initial visit for
a hearing evaluation and hearing test. This will last around
(If you have a
I might need to send you to your GP in order to have your ears
syringed, which will hold up the process.
Or you can ask me to remove the wax for you.)
If you decide to order a hearing aid I will take resin
impressions of your ears at this first visit. This will take a further
- When the hearing aids or ear-moulds arrive
back from the
manufacturer, I will invite you for a second visit to fit them. This
visit will last around one hour.
- You will come back for a third
("follow-up") visit around three to six weeks later. This visit will last
- In the
event of further retuning etc being needed you might need to make a few
more visits over the next few weeks.
|I live over three hours drive
from your office - should I consider making an appointment?
|If you are frail or if
you have very little
free time then I could not recommend that you travel a huge distance to
You might need two or three visits in the first few months in order to get a
hearing aid fitted and fine-tuned. This could add up to a lot of travel
time. It could also lead to high travel costs which might detract from
the savings you make from my low prices.
However if you regularly pass through my area on business or to visit
family then we might well be able to fit in the required visits around
your travels without too much trouble.
However if you are looking for Open Fitting
or Loudspeaker in The Ear
hearing aids, the situation might be a lot easier. I can often evaluate
your hearing and then fit the hearing aids all in a single visit. You
might only need two visits in total if the fitting went well.
In fact I do see
MANY people who travel very long
distances to take
advantage of my very low prices. I have had customers from many remote
of England, and I have even had customers from as far away as Spain,
Italy, Germany, Denmark, France ... and even Australia!