The first action that should be taken before choosing a hearing aid is to go through an initial hearing test conducted by a specialist. While online hearing tests may provide some basic information about a possibility of a hearing impairment, a professional medical exam by an audiologist is strongly advised to determine the exact type and level of hearing loss and the most suitable hearing aid for the condition.
The hearing test result, called an audiogram, is carried out using an audiometer connected to headphones. It measures how well different pitches of sound are heard. Usually, you have to push a button when hearing a sound in your headphones. The moment you stop hearing sounds at a particular frequency determines your threshold. Hearing sounds in the 0 to 20dB range indicate normal hearing, severe hearing loss occurs when quieter than 80-94dB frequencies cannot be heard.
The instrument used for the ear examination is called an auriscope or otoscope. It is made up of a head and a handle and has a magnifying glass that allows examination of the outer and middle ear. It is used mainly to check for problems of the eardrum such as a perforation or fluid in the middle ear, causes for an ear discharge or a possible conductive hearing loss resulting from impacted earwax or foreign objects. In the case where your audiologist decides that you will benefit from a hearing aid, they will direct you to the most suitable type for your specific condition. The hearing aid can be analogue or digital and you can obtain it by contacting the NHS or buying one privately.
The hearing aids offered by NHS, while free of charge, do not cover all types of hearing aids available on the market. That means that there is no guarantee that your personal requirements regarding cosmetics and style will be met completely by these models. Also, you should bear in mind that receiving a hearing aid from the NHS will take some time. The NHS hearing aid devices include behind the ear, body-worn, bone conduction (with a removable headband), bone anchored (require implant) and CROS and BiCROS (for people with hearing in one ear only) hearing aids.
Privately you can find the full range of hearing aids including some styles and models not supplied by the NHS. Such types of hearing aids are in the ear, in the canal and completely in the canal hearing aids as well as some of the smaller behind the ear forms Deciding on a hearing aid is sometimes connected not only to the medical prescription but to cost.
The cheapest hearing aids are analogue, although not very common any more. The majority of hearing aids offered are digital and their price range is quite broad. Prices usually vary between £100 and £2,500 for one ear depending on brand, type, features and how they are supplied. When choosing a hearing aid, make sure that it is prescribed by a specialist and is appropriate for your hearing impairment. Every hearing aid takes time to get accustomed to and to determine if it is beneficial for you. Therefore, you should buy a hearing aid that has a trial period to let you test the device. In addition, it is good to see if the device can be adjusted with time so you will not need to buy a new one in case your hearing loss gets more severe.