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Hearing aids

Hearing Aids Panel

Hearing loss is a prevalent condition affecting millions of people in the UK, and it can become more noticeable as we age. It can impact your ability to follow conversations, enjoy music, and fully engage with the world around you. This can lead to social isolation, frustration, and even safety concerns.

Common scenarios and concerns

Lifestyle and equipment options to help you

Noisy environments:Difficulty following conversations, especially in noisy environments.

This can lead to strained relationships, social isolation, and frustration.

Hearing aids:Electronic devices that amplify sound and improve your ability to hear conversations and environmental noises.

Distortion:Muffled or distorted sounds, difficulty hearing high-pitched tones.

This can lead to reduced enjoyment of music, difficulty understanding television programmes, and potential safety concerns (e.g., missing alarms).

Hearing aids:Modern hearing aids with advanced features like noise reduction and directional microphones can enhance specific sounds and improve overall listening clarity.

Directional sound:Difficulty hearing phone conversations or sounds coming from behind you.

This can lead to increased reliance on others, communication breakdowns, and potential feelings of insecurity.

Hearing aids:Hearing aids with Bluetooth connectivity can connect directly to phones and stream audio for clear phone calls. Directional microphones in hearing aids can also help you focus on sounds coming from specific directions.


Understanding hearing loss and its effects

Hearing loss can occur gradually over time and manifest in various ways:

  • Difficulty following conversations: You might struggle to hear people speak, especially in noisy environments like restaurants or social gatherings. This can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and a withdrawal from social interactions.
  • Muffled or distorted sounds: Sounds might seem muffled or unclear, making it difficult to understand speech, enjoy music, or hear high-pitched tones like birds chirping or children's voices.
  • Difficulty hearing sounds from behind you: You might miss sounds coming from behind you, such as someone calling your name or a car approaching. This can pose safety risks and increase feelings of insecurity.

How hearing aids can help

Hearing aids are tiny electronic devices worn behind the ear that amplify sound waves and make them easier to hear. They come in various styles and technologies to address different types and severities of hearing loss. Here's how hearing aids can benefit you:

  • Improved conversation clarity: Modern hearing aids with noise reduction features help filter out background noise, allowing you to focus on conversations and hear speech more clearly, even in challenging listening environments.
  • Enhanced listening experience: Hearing aids can amplify sounds across various frequencies, including high-pitched sounds, allowing you to appreciate music, television programmes, and the subtleties of the soundscape around you.
  • Increased sense of safety: Hearing aids can help you hear sounds coming from behind you, such as traffic signals or someone calling your name, promoting a greater sense of awareness and safety.
  • Improved social connections: By enhancing your ability to hear and participate in conversations, hearing aids can help you reconnect with loved ones and maintain an active social life.

Types of hearing aids available

There are various types of hearing aids to choose from, each with its own advantages:

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE): These traditional styles house the electronic components behind the ear and connect to a small earpiece inserted into the ear canal. They come in different sizes and are suitable for a wide range of hearing loss severity levels.
  • In-the-ear (ITE): These custom-moulded devices fit entirely within the outer ear canal and are discreet. However, they might not be suitable for all types of hearing loss.
  • In-the-canal (ITC): These smaller versions of ITE devices sit deeper within the ear canal and are even less visible.

Advanced features to consider

  • Bluetooth connectivity: Stream audio directly from your phone, television, or other Bluetooth-enabled devices for clear phone calls and enhanced listening experiences.
  • Directional microphones: Focus on sounds coming from specific directions, allowing you to follow conversations in noisy environments.
  • Automatic programme settings: Hearing aids can automatically adjust to different listening environments, optimising sound quality for various situations.
  • Rechargeability: Eliminate the need for frequent battery changes with rechargeable hearing aids.

Getting started with hearing aids

Here are some steps to take if you suspect hearing loss:

  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor: Discuss your hearing concerns and get a referral for a hearing test.
  • Visit a hearing healthcare professional: A qualified audiologist will conduct a comprehensive hearing evaluation to assess the type and severity of your hearing loss.
  • Explore hearing aid options: Discuss your hearing needs, lifestyle, and preferences with an audiologist to find the most suitable hearing aid for you. They can showcase different styles and functionalities to help you make an informed decision.
  • Consider a hearing aid trial: Many hearing healthcare professionals offer trial periods for hearing aids, allowing you to experience the benefits firsthand before committing to a purchase.

Additional things to consider

  • Hearing aid maintenance: Clean and maintain your hearing aids regularly according to the manufacturer's instructions to ensure optimal performance and longevity.
  • Acclimatisation period: Allow yourself time to adjust to wearing hearing aids. Your brain needs time to relearn how to process amplified sounds.
  • Ongoing support: Schedule regular appointments with your audiologist for adjustments and fine-tuning of your hearing aids to ensure continued optimal performance.

Where to buy equipment to help you with your hearing

Plymouth City Council, NHS Devon, and Livewell Southwest have jointly commissioned NRS Healthcare to deliver the Safe+Well service, and they have over 2,500 daily living aids that you can purchase by mail order, telephone, or online.

View the Plymouth Safe+Well website

NRS has a dedicated phone line with a trained team of specialists who can answer any questions you might have. Just call 0345 6461860.

Other places to buy equipment from:

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  • Free assessment tool: Select the area of difficulty that is relevant to you. You will then be asked a few questions to guide you towards helpful daily living aids. 
  • Free telephone advice line: Complete the online form, and we will contact you to arrange a convenient time to call.

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