Q. How do I recognize hearing problems?

A. Hearing difficulty can often be hard to notice as in most cases it begins gradually, without discomfort or pain. Family members often learn to adapt to someone’s hearing loss without even realising. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine whether you have a hearing loss:

  • Do I often ask people to repeat themselves?
  • Does it sound like other people are mumbling or slurring their words?
  • Do I have trouble following conversations with more than two people?
  • Do I prefer the TV or radio volume louder than others?
  • Do I have difficulty hearing what is said unless I'm facing the speaker?
  • Do I struggle to hear in crowded places like restaurants, supermarkets and meeting rooms?
  • Do I have a hard time hearing women or children?
  • Do I experience ringing or buzzing in my ears?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, the chances are you do suffer from hearing loss.

Q. Aren’t hearing aids large, clumpy and uncomfortable?

A. With today’s technology, hearing aids are slimmer, lighter, more discreet and stylish than ever before. Many are even invisible. As for being uncomfortable, hearing aids are custom made to sit on your ear, ensuring your hearing aids fit you perfectly. Many of our patients tell us that once they have their hearing aids, people notice their hearing loss much less and their quality of life is improved so much that the cosmetics are no longer an issue.

Q. Will a hearing aid perfectly restore my hearing?

A. While no hearing aid can restore your hearing to normal, hearing aids are designed to let you hear soft sounds that you couldn't hear before, and prevent loud sounds from becoming uncomfortably loud for you. They are also designed to improve your ability to understand speech, even in noisy environments.

Q. Will I need to wear one or two hearing aids?

A. In most cases, if you have hearing loss in both ears, you will be recommended to wear two hearing aids. The human brain is dependent on input from both ears to properly process sound. Balanced hearing provided by two ears allows us to tell where sound is coming from and to better hear conversation in the presence of background noise.

Q. What kind of technology features are on hearing aids these days? Does high-tech mean difficult to use?

A. Like many other devices such as TVs, mobile phones and computers, hearing aids too have gone through a major technological revolution, especially in the last few years. Most private digital hearing aids are designed to virtually eliminate feedback and make listening in noisy environments easier and more comfortable. Depending on your lifestyle and listening needs you may wish to have hearing aids that are Bluetooth compatible, stream stereo sound from TVs, tablets, and radios or talk on the telephone directly through the hearing aid itself. Re-chargeable hearing aids are also very popular for ease of use. These features are all in instruments that are much smaller, more comfortable and more powerful than ever before.

Q. How will I know I am getting the best hearing aids for me?

A. There are many hearing aid manufacturers, each producing exceptional quality hearing aid products and accessories. At Integrate Hearing we carry out an in-depth hearing assessment to determine your exact requirements by combining the results of your hearing test with your lifestyle, cosmetic preferences and your dexterity requirements. Olivia will make sure that you are given an easy to understand explanation of why you have been recommended certain products and how they specifically relate to your listening needs.

Q. What is the difference between NHS and private hearing services?

A. Everyone is entitled to free hearing aids and batteries on the National Health Service (NHS). The differences can be summarised into 4 main areas; waiting times, technology and style of hearing aids and aftercare services.

Private waiting times are much shorter than on the NHS and you are often fitted with your hearing aids in a matter of days. From hearing assessment to hearing aid fitting is usually between 7-14 days. Many NHS providers are only able to fit you with one specific range of hearing aids available to them. Privately you can choose from the full range of technology on the market which offers smaller, more discreet styles and more advanced hearing aid features that are suited to you individually.

If things go wrong due to often limited time and resources, being seen on the NHS can often be a lengthy process. You are often left with the same hearing aids for long periods of time without follow-up on how you are getting on. At Integrate Hearing we always include a lifetime of free aftercare with your hearing aid purchase, meaning you can count on to keep your hearing aids working at optimum performance. We provide regular six-month check-ups, and should you have a problem it will be dealt with speedily to minimise any inconvenience.

Q. Are there running cost for a hearing aid?

A. Most hearing aids that are not re-chargeable require batteries to operate. A single battery can last between 3 days and 2 weeks depending on the type of hearing aid. Most private hearing aid styles require a filter to be changed to prevent wax from entering the hearing aid and blocking the source of sound. At Integrate Hearing you will always be given a full explanation of any running cost of your potential hearing aid from the outset so that you can account for this in your decision-making process. Many competitors make it that you must purchase your sundries from them, however we believe that should you wish to source these products elsewhere then that’s fine! We can however provide everything to you, should you find this more convenient.

Q. How often should I get my hearing and hearing aids checked?

A. Due to the natural ageing process to keep up to date with your hearing we advise regular hearing tests above the age of 55. Hearing loss is often a slow process, so should your hearing deteriorate very rapidly it is advisable for you to have a hearing check as soon as possible from a fully qualified audiologist who may recommend hearing aids or refer you to your GP for medical advice. Generally, for those already wearing hearing aids at Integrate Hearing we offer regular six-monthly check-ups, a hearing test every two years or whenever necessary if you feel your hearing has changed.

Q. How often should I wear my new hearing aids?

A. Initially we advise that it may take several days to several weeks to get fully accustomed to the “new” sounds you will be hearing with hearing aids. In most cases your hearing loss will have occurred very gradually and over a long period of time so therefore your brain will have forgotten many environmental sounds which you, at one time, learned to ignore. Your brain will need time to re-learn how to process these sounds and determine which to “tune in” and which to “tune out.” Some people adapt quickly to amplification, for those who have never worn hearing instruments it may take longer but with consistent use everyone can adjust to the sound around them and to the use of hearing aids. We will most likely advise that initially you wear the hearing aids as long as you are comfortable, trying each day to extend the period of time that you are wearing the hearing aids also try and branch out into more varied listening situations. Amplified sound will become more natural and comfortable over time. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time you wear your hearing aids and the benefit you receive.

Q. How can I protect my hearing from deteriorating?

A. Where possible avoid exposure to loud noise. The damage caused by noise exposure is cumulative over the course of time and there is often a high incidence of hearing loss amongst those people who have worked in loud noise, such as with loud machinery or with loud music exposure. At times avoiding noise may be impractical or impossible so a good rule of thumb is to try and wear hearing protection when being exposed to sounds that prevent you from understanding conversation in a normal voice or any noise that leaves you with tinnitus, as this can cause permanent damage to your hearing.

Q. Are hearing aids only worn by those of retirement age or older?

A. No! Yes, loss of hearing is something that is associated with increasing age as part of the natural ageing process. However, there are many causes of hearing loss and we successfully fit hearing aids to people of all ages. It’s important that if you suspect you have a hearing loss that you do not ignore it, and instead have it investigated in the same way that you would any other health issue.

Q. I can still hear most things. Aren’t hearing aids only for those people that are deaf?

A. Hearing aids work by enhancing your existing hearing so you need to have some level of hearing for an aid to work. Unfortunately, in the past wearing hearing aids were associated with older people or those with severe to profound deafness. Hearing aids have vastly improved over time and with them becoming increasingly smaller and often invisible no-one need know! Hearing aid wear from younger ages is becoming increasingly popular due to its health benefits. Accepting that you have a hearing loss also enables you to continue to be involved with the world around you. It prevents hearing loss from being an inconvenience or reason for not socializing or not functioning well at work. In fact, if you wear a hearing aid, people are much less likely to notice your hearing loss and for most people wearing a hearing aid enables them to get on with their life.

Q. Will wearing a hearing aid make my hearing worse?

A. No. Many of our patients ask if they will become dependent on their hearing aids and essentially will wearing hearing aids make their own natural hearing deteriorate. Through acclimatisation you naturally re-train the brain to hear well again so yes, without wearing your hearing aids it will be obvious to you that your hearing is not as good. However, your underlying hearing and the amount that you will hear is still the same as it was before you started wearing hearing aids and the natural deterioration in your hearing will continue at a rate that is not affected by the wear of your hearing aids.