Do you need hearing aids? Hearing loss is a very common issue and millions of people living in the UK rely on hearing assisted devices to go about their everyday lives. But it can be hard to know where to start with hearing aids.
On this page, we explain all the information you’re likely to need about hearing aids. Including information about the different types, how to choose the right model, how they work, and how to get the most out of them.
What is a hearing aid?
A hearing aid is a small, battery-powered amplifying device that fits on or around the ear. They help people with hearing loss problems to better hear sounds and to understand speech. They can also help to reduce external noises so that the wearer can hear more clearly in loud environments.
How Hearing Aids Work
A typical hearing aid device is made up of a microphone, amplifier and speaker. The microphone detects and picks up external sounds. The amplifier makes the sounds loud enough for the user to hear them properly. The speaker then transmits the sounds directly into the ear.
Find out more about how hearing aids work here.
They usually have three main components:
- A microphone that captures sounds in the environment and sends them to the processor.
- A processor that analyses the sounds and turns them into electrical signals.
- A loudspeaker that transmits the signals to your ear, converting them to sounds you can hear and understand.
Adapting to hearing aids can sometimes be difficult, but Hearmore UK is with you every step of the journey.
After delivering and fitting your hearing aids, we’ll keep in touch to check up on you and how you’re adjusting to them.
How to know when you need hearing aids
There are three different types of hearing loss: mild, moderate and severe. Even if you only have a very mild diagnosis of hearing loss, you can still qualify for hearing aids.
Most people first notice they have a problem when they find it hard to understand what others are saying, or if the TV or other source of background noise is suddenly duller.
If you‘re worried about your hearing ability, you can book a free assessment from your own home. Find out what an audiology assessment is and what to expect here.
Choosing the right hearing aids
There are many different types of hearing aids and it can be difficult to know where to begin. The ‘right’ one depends on what it is you want exactly.
Many people don’t want their hearing aids to be all that noticeable, and so many of the new models are getting smaller and smaller. But the smaller the hearing aid, the less powerful it may be.
From smallest to biggest, here are the different types of hearing aids available:
Invisible in the canal (IIC)
The smallest types of hearing aids available. IIC devices are fitted deep in the ear canal and sometimes it takes a specialist to insert and remove them. Many people are drawn to these types of hearing aids because they live active lifestyles, or because they don’t want their hearing aids to be visible to others. They are sometimes known as ‘invisible hearing aids’.
However despite their popularity, invisible hearing aids are not suitable for anyone with severe hearing loss — as they generally aren’t powerful enough to amplify sounds to that level. Other things to consider include:
- Smaller batteries have a short lifespan and can be difficult to put in
- Some really small (IIC devices) can only be inserted and removed by a hearing aid specialist
- The speaker is more likely to clog with earwax
- Often a lot of extra features aren’t available, such as volume control
Completely in canal (CIC)
Completely in canal hearing aids are custom-made to fit right into your ear canal. They are almost invisible to others, and most people won’t notice you’re wearing them.
CIC hearing aids are a bit bigger and more powerful than invisible hearing aids. They are also slightly easier to adjust and to fit and remove from the ear.
Like with the smaller IIC devices, CIC hearing aids are better suited for active people, and are very discrete. They are not as powerful as some of the bigger hearing aids. But they are also less likely to pick up wind noise.
Things to consider include:
- CICs aren’t suitable for severe hearing loss
- Smaller batteries have a short lifespan and can be difficult to put in
- The speaker is more likely to clog with earwax
- At the small end of the scale, often a lot of extra features aren’t available, such as volume control
These hearing instruments sit behind the ear with the impressive aesthetics, comfortable fit and intuitive controls that clients love. They’re known as the most powerful hearing aids, making them a good choice for severe hearing loss.
Many of them have something called a T-loop or an induction loop. You may have seen the listening loop signal in public places such as theatres, conference rooms, or shops – this signal means that there is a system that can send voice directly to your hearing aid while filtering out any distracting background noises.
BTE aids can be close-fitted, filling the outer ear and minimising whistling noises, or open-fitted, which are smaller and more discreet.
Receiver in the ear (RITE)
Receiver in ear hearing aids are a lot like the behind-the-ear models. The difference is that the size of the device behind the ear is smaller and instead of a tube a thin wire is used to connect the behind the ear section to the ear mould.
Receiver in the ear hearing aids are smaller than BTE models and often less visible. Pros and cons include:
- Multi-directional microphones
- Manual control options
- Available with rechargeable batteries
- Susceptible to ear wax building up and blocking the speaker
Open fit hearing aids
An “open fit” hearing aid is a variation on anyone of the following types of hearing aids:
- Receiver in the canal
- Behind the ear
- Receiver in the ear
The key difference is that an open dome is fitted into the ear, keeping the ear canal very open. The downside is that open fit hearing aids are very visible. But they are great for people who struggle to pick up high-frequency sounds — and for people with all types of hearing loss.
Open fit hearing aids tend to be more comfortable as they do not “plug” the ear. They are also less likely to be blocked by a build-up of earwax. But they can be difficult to fit into the ear, as the domes are often generic and not custom made.
“Open” hearing aids are distinguished from “closed” hearing aids. Learn more about open and closed hearing aids.
CROS/BiCROS hearing aids
CROs and BiCROs hearing aids are specially designed for people who are hard of hearing in just one ear, unilateral hearing loss or single-sided deafness. But you need to have hearing aids fitted on both ears for them to work.
CROS hearing aids work by taking sounds that have made their way into your “bad ear” and transmitting them over to your “good” ear — so that you can hear them.
If even your good ear has a little bit of hearing loss, then you may want to try BiCROs (the “Bi” stands for bilateral) hearing aids. BiCROs hearing aids better amplify that even the good ear, so that the sound transmissions between both ears work especially well.
Click here for more information on CROs and BiCROS hearing aids.
NHS hearing aids versus private hearing aids
A common question people always ask is if it is worth paying for private hearing aids when you can get NHS hearing aids at no extra cost.
What you should always do is visit your GP about your hearing as soon as it becomes a noticeable problem. Your doctor will then discuss with you what the NHS has to offer. Then compare hearing aids with the private sector.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about NHS hearing aids:
- The only NHS hearing aid models are behind the ear hearing aids — so they will be visible to other people
- They tend to be at the lower end of the technology scale with fewer features
- Waiting times may be long
- You only technically “loan” out your NHS hearing aid. They aren’t really free hearing aids. If you damage them through negligence you may have to pay a NHS hearing aid replacement cost
Read more about how NHS hearing aids compare to private hearing aids here.
What to Look for in Hearing Aids
Our highly qualified, degree standard audiologists undergo continual training to keep up to date with the advances in technology and, along with their knowledge and expertise in their field and a few questions will point you in the right direction. Not sure which one you need?
Hearing Aids Features
Nowadays, hearing aids come equipped with all kinds of technological features that can improve your hearing experience. Not all features are available on all models however, and some depend on how severe your hearing loss is and affordability.
Some of the most convenient features are:
- App integration — A lot of modern hearing aids can be adjusted and controlled via smartphone apps
- Bluetooth — this allows your hearing aid to connect to devices such as mobile phones and even wireless speakers
- Telecoil technology — also known as t-coils, telecoils are small copper wire enhancements that help hearing aids to better pick up signals from loop systems. This helps the wearer to better cancel out unwanted background noise in public environments, including concerts and cinemas
- Rechargeable batteries — removes the need for worrying about purchasing extra batteries, is cheaper and more convenient for most people
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are endless features such as adaptive directional microphones, transient noise reduction filters, speech enhancers and music equalisers. Read more about hearing aid features here.
Digital Hearing Aids
Virtually every type of hearing aid available to buy today is a digital hearing aid. ‘Digital’ as opposed to the older ‘analogue’ hearing aids.
Digital hearing aids have all the features that analogue hearing aids have, plus a lot more. They work by converting sound waves into digital signals, allowing them to produce a more accurate representation of a sound. They can also be tweaked digitally to better match the level of hearing loss a person has. Without digital technology, almost all of the convenient features that hearing aids benefit from today would not be possible.
Bluetooth Hearing Aids
Bluetooth hearing aids are very popular because they allow users to connect to wireless electronic devices with Bluetooth compatibility. Including smartphones, TVs, speakers, iPads and more.
You can listen to music, the sounds of the TV, and hold phone conversations — all directly into the earpiece of your bluetooth hearing aids. This makes it much easier and clearer to hear. And it reduces the awkwardness of having to wear headphones or put a phone to your ear with a hearing aid inside.
Learn more about bluetooth hearing aids here.
Rechargeable Hearing Aids
Rechargeable hearing aids are convenient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Plus you don’t have to worry about running out and going to buy batteries. Rechargeable hearing aids in the canal type are popular.
Many brands of hearing aids come in two versions. One with and the other without rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable hearing aids usually come with a case that doubles up as a power pack — so you can carry them around easily and charge them when you don’t need them.
How our service works:
Frequently Asked Questions
The cost all depends on what type of hearing aids you want — along with how severe your hearing loss is. It’s true that good hearing aids aren’t the cheapest thing in the world. But for what they’re worth, they’re also not all that expensive. This is especially true when you consider the enormous difference they can make in your quality of life.
We only recommend hearing aids from the leading and most reputable brands. And because we believe everyone should have access to quality hearing aids, our customers can stagger out the cost by paying in interest-free installments.
It can feel quite different and take a while to get used to hearing aids. Many people find it a weird sensation to suddenly have their hearing restored to a high quality — and ear moulds can cause a “plugged up” feeling at first.
At first, your own voice might sound unusual. It can also take some time to get familiar with the devices and to learn how to handle them. The important thing to do is slowly introduce and train yourself to them. Start by wearing them at home, take lots of breaks, and practice listening to all of the heightened sounds and pick out where they’re coming from. In time your hearing aids will start to feel normal.