If you suffer from a certain level of hearing loss and your audiologist has recommended you a hearing aid, you can obtain one in a few ways. You can buy it privately from a shop or you can purchase it online. You can also apply for a hearing aid from the NHS and get it free. You will not be charged for repair works and batteries but you should be aware that the hearing aids are provided as a loan and not as a gift and if they incur any damage, you may well be charged by the NHS for a repair or replacement.
The NHS does not offer all the types of hearing aids available privately or the newest models with the latest features. For those models, you will have to turn to an independent dispenser.
The hearing aid styles available at the NHS could be analogue or digital and include behind the ear, body worn, bone conduction, bone anchored, CROS and BiCROS hearing aids.
Behind the ear hearing aids
Behind the ear hearing aids are one of the most popular styles of hearing aids. They have two main parts – a plastic component that goes behind the ear and accommodates the electronic parts and an earmould that sits in the bowl of the ear. For the earmould to fit, an impression of the individual ear is taken. The customized hearing aid can usually be picked up after a few weeks.
Modern types of behind the ear hearing aids feature an open fit technology. They do not require an earmould but instead the case behind you ear is connected with a tiny tube that goes into the entrance of the ear finishing in a speaker, thus providing a clear and more natural sound and fit. However, these models are not always available from the NHS.
Body-worn hearing aids
The body-worn hearing aids consist of an earmould/earphones equipped with a loudspeaker connected to a small box containing the controls, battery and amplifier that you can attach to your clothes or put in your pocket. These types of hearing aids, although still provided, are considered old-fashioned and are not very popular anymore.
Bone conduction hearing aids
As their name suggest, the bone conduction hearing aids conduct the sound to the inner ear through the skull bones. The device has a part holding the microphone and a headband equipped with a bone conductor, which vibrates when the sound from the microphone is transmitted.
Bone anchored hearing aids
The bone anchored hearing aids are actually a type of bone conduction hearing aids. The difference is that they require an implant in the bone of the skull behind your ear. It then connects to a small case with a microphone and a sound processor.
CROS and BiCROS hearing aids
These types of hearing aids are suitable for people who have hearing only in one ear. The hearing aid transmits the sound signal to your hearing ear. The hearing aid usually consists of two connected behind the ear hearing aids.