Types of Hearing Aids and
There are essentially three styles of hearing aids available worldwide:
There are also a number of different hearing accessories and devices to assist you.
At Hearing Sense, we strongly believe we have the widest range of hearing aids and hearing accessories in Australia because we are completely independent. That means we can source hearing devices from around the world – regardless of the brand.
Read on to learn more about the differences between each type of hearing aid.
You have taken the step to find out more about improving your hearing….and that’s a pretty big step. Most people take 7 years to admit their hearing troubles and then act on it, so well done.
Choosing the right device can be tricky as there are many different options out there and we feel that finding the right one is SO important in making you successful with your aids. The whole experience should allow you to feel listened to, be exciting that you can hear well again and easy.
So we have put together a list of things to think about when choosing the right aid.
The Brand of Aid
There are many different brands of hearing aids throughout the world, and each use their own prescription and formulas for amplifying sound. They also have their own way of reducing background noise.
In addition, they each have their own fitting software which allows us, as clinicians, to get the sound right for you. One brand of hearing aids will sound absolutely amazing to one person, yet may not sound as good to another.
That is why it is very important to see experts from an independent clinic. What this means is that the clinic is not owned by a parent hearing aid manufacturer. When clinics are owned by a hearing aid manufacturer, they generally tend to fit the brand of their parent company over any of its rival’s. See Hearing Aid manufacturers links for more information on this.
We are a completely independent clinic, and if you read Our Story, you will see that we have had the experience of being part of a retail chain of stores and mainly fitting one brand of aid. That is why we left and opened our own clinic again. So we have the flexibility and variety of brands to offer our clients…because one shoe does not fit all feet.
Brand choice is very important.
A client came to visit me at the beginning of 2013. His partner had booked him in for the appointment as she was fed up with his hearing problems. Before I called them into the office, I could hear them yelling at each other quite loudly in the waiting room, as he refused to put in his current hearing aids. When he came in and I began finding out a little more about him, I learnt that he had paid $9000 for a set of hearing aids last year from another clinic but never wore them as he felt he couldn’t hear any better with them.
He refused to look at me throughout the appointment and I could tell he had been forced to come and didn’t really want to be there. After completing a full hearing test, and explaining the results using my TV and live demonstrations of ear cells, I asked him to let me reprogram his hearing aids from scratch and see if we could improve the sound. We did this and he noticed an improvement after a week but still was having trouble hearing his partner, TV and especially in any kind of background noise.
I suggested to him, that he do a brand comparison and trial a different brand hearing aid, as sometimes the prescription and features of each manufacturer’s aids are just so different and some people click better with some brands over the other.
So we proceeded to fit the new hearing aids and also set him up with wireless TV streamer and a microphone that his partner could wear in the car and in noisy restaurants. This meant she could be anywhere in the house or in a shopping centre and he could hear her as though she was standing right next to him. Needless to say, he went off and trialled the aids in the real world and was booked in for a follow up an appointment 2 weeks later.
Can you believe that when they turned up for the Follow Up appointment, and were sitting in the waiting room, I could hear them talking and laughing quietly to each other.
That absolutely made my day! I could instantly tell without even bringing them into my office, that these new aids had changed their lives. They came in and looked like a totally different set of people to who I had met at the first appointment. They were more energised and animated with each other and I knew that this was the absolute right thing for them to have done. Finding the right brand and having the flexibility to do this with an independent clinic is VITAL.
Kelly-Mare Korcek, Senior Audiologist
Your connection and relationship with your clinician
The sound and hearing you get through your hearing aid, is very reliant on the clinician who is programming and in particular, fine tuning your hearing aid. This can be directly linked to the relationship you have with your clinician.
We believe that you should feel really comfortable to say whatever you like honestly about sound quality, volume and comfort. Then we can fine tune the aids to be absolutely perfect for you.
The prescription of sound in hearing aid software is mainly based on your hearing test results graph (audiogram), and some of the latest software also takes your listening preferences into account, in other words it asks questions like “Do you like to hear all sounds around you, even if they are annoying?” Your answers to this will then tell the hearing aid how much noise reduction needs to apply for different people’s preferences.
The hearing aid software may prescribe an automatic setting or manual control as a default. However, the hearing aid software knows nothing about your home life, work life, social life or the situations in which you have the most trouble hearing in. Only your hearing specialist understands this, and we feel it is crucial to take all of this into account to make the sound quality the best it can be for YOU and your life.
We really do care and we have had clients says that this really shows in our finetuning and follow up. We also have the clinical skills to prove it in both having graduated top of our respective hearing degrees and attending all hearing aid launches and conferences that we can. We love new technology and discovering ways to help our clients hear better!
I knew I had a hearing problem for many years – family and friends had past comment often. I decided to get my hearing checked once I retired – I needed time to come to terms with probably having to wear hearing aids.
My first appointment was with a government agency – “yes” you need hearing aids and these are the only ones we recommend for you (behind the ear hearing aids_ and please come back in two weeks to pick them up and pay for them. This didn’t sit well with me – seemed too rushed and I didn’t like the type of hearing aids. I needed time to emotionally adjust to this big change in my life so I put this on hold for 6 months.
My wife noticed a large advertisement for Hearing Sense in the Sunday Mail, detailing Inner Ear Hearing Aids. From the first appointment with Kelly Korcek, I knew that this would change my life forever. Her kindness, understanding and patience will always be appreciated. I was able to use the hearing aids for over a month without any pressure of payment. They needed a few adjustments but nothing was too much trouble for Kelly and Ashleigh.
It only took me a week to get use to them and the difference to my hearing was amazing. When we had family functions I was always isolated at the end of the table but now I am right in the middle of discussions. I play lawn bowls now and can easily get involved in all aspects if this sport. I love these hearing aids because they are virtually invisible – they are easy to look after and they are no trouble to put into my ears. They are expensive but the benefits absolutely out way the costs.
As you get older there is nothing worse than becoming more and more isolated because you can’ hear – there is an easy answer — check out Hearing Sense – you won’t be sorry.
Marcel Vella, 66, A first time User
Trial them out there in the real world
Testing a hearing aid in your life is very important. Testing them in the hearing aid clinic or only for an hour or two is NOT a good judge of the hearing aids capabilities.
It is essential that you give them a good test in a whole variety of situations – try them in a restaurant, test them out with your phone, compare the hearing of the TV clarity with them on compared to off.
By doing this you can get a really good feel of how hearing aids work, the benefits you get from hearing better and also any fine-tuning or tweaking of the sound you may need.
You may even need to trial a few different types of hearing aid until you find the perfect one for you. We really believe in trials and how important they are. We offer free 30 day trials with all devices.
At 74, I never dreamed I would need or accept hearing aids– until the volume dial on the TV reached extra high, phone conversations became difficult to understand, the grand children repeated several times a question to which I replied No instead of Yes.
But now I laugh with comedians, hear the approaching ambulance siren, enjoy chatting with the grand kids and listening to nature—the birds, frogs, crickets, etc
The step I took improved my life considerably.
Thank you Kelly & Pavel.
Patricia Minuzzo, 74
Style that suits you and your lifestyle – looks vs performance
Quite often, the biggest concern of anyone coming for a hearing aid and the reason they have taken so long to do anything about hearing problems is because “I don’t want other people to know I have a hearing aid.”
Cosmetics and the ‘invisible’ factor are super important to the end result of the hearing aid so that you want to wear it and love the better hearing that it gives without anyone else knowing about it.
The wonderful news is that hearing aids nowadays are SO much better and smaller than they used to be. No longer are they big beige banana sized units behind the ear – those days are gone, thank heavens!
Now, even with a profound hearing loss, you can have tiny discreet solutions. The latest IIC hearing aids are also the tiniest of tiny hearing aids which fit completely snugly in the ear. The Lyric hearing device is in fact completely invisible and wearable 24/ 7.
However, on the other hand, for some people – cosmetics are really not an issue – they are simply after the best hearing they can get out of an aid. Luckily technology has advanced so much that hearing aids are super smart and fully automatic.
For example, one of the latest technologies involves a ‘beamformer.’ Beamforming technology allows the hearing aid to focus a very narrow beam on a voice when you are trying to hear them in a very noisy situation. In fact, Professor Dillon recently in the Advertiser, (Sep, 2013) claimed that beamforming microphones could almost be better than normal hearing. This type of technology is generally available in slightly larger in-the-ear hearing aids and in all of the tiny behind-the-ear open fit and traditional style devices.
So, as you can see, it is really important to look at all options to find the right solution for YOU.
I have been using hearing aids for about 12 years and in that time used 2 different aids which were purchased from different providers. Last year after experiencing problems with my hearing aids I began enquiring to find replacements.
Following up on an advertisement in the ‘courier’ I visited Hearing Sense at Norwood and was impressed with their friendly service and the prices quoted on the various aids. After considering the options, I purchased two hearing aids and a wireless TV Link. I immediately enjoyed the many improved benefits especially the clarity in TV Audio.
My experience at Hearing Sense was a great benefit in improving the quality of my hearing and the services were always given in a friendly attentive manner.
I also recommended Hearing Sense to two of my friends who also purchased Hearing aids with the same helpful service provided.
Without hesitation I recommend Pavel, Kelly and Ashleigh at Hearing Sense as a provider of hearing aid equipment together with quality service.
David Payne, 77
One or two hearing aids?
This is a very good question. And often, mainly relates to the hearing loss in each ear. Most of the time, hearing does deteriorate equally in both ears. Sometimes, one ear may have a bigger loss than the other possibly because of noise damage on that side (eg a loud explosion near one ear) or an infection on one side.
Looking at your audiogram will be the first key to deciding whether you need one or two aids. We also take a very good look at your speech understanding in each ear when we test you. The reason why this is important, is because sometimes damage to the nerve of hearing is so severe, that even if you put a million dollar hearing aid on that ear, the benefit that you get is minimal.
We also look at things like balance, evenness of hearing and being able to tell where a sound is coming from. Also, if you have tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in either or both ears, this may determine whether you need one or two as hearing aids can help with that.
We were born with two ears for a reason. Two ears help us know where sounds are coming from, allows balanced hearing, help us hear better in background noise and helps with clarity. A quick test of this is try listening to the radio with one ear blocked compared to both your ears open. There is a big difference, especially in clarity.
Generally, when it comes to hearing loss, if there is a loss in both ears, even if one ear is worse than the other, it is a good idea to trial a pair of hearing aids. You will feel more balanced and even, and don’t need to keep telling family “Talk in my good ear” or have to turn your head so that your best ear is towards the sound.
Mostly importantly, we feel, is the fact that when you wear a hearing aid, you are stimulating the inner ear hair cells and helping the health of your ear. If you have a symmetrical hearing loss, and you only stimulate one ear, what happens to the other? It tends to deteriorate faster because it is unstimulated Auditory Deprivation.
However, the choice is entirely yours and by trialling a pair of devices if you need them, you can experiment by wearing them both or one at a time.
Technology levels and costs
Hearing aids can vary.
They can vary in their brand, their programming but also in the level of technology. In other words, that every hearing aid manufacturer has a range of hearing aids from a premium model down to a more basic level.
This is a little bit like when you choose a holiday. You can either go on a 14 day cruise around Europe in a beautiful cruise liner or you could opt to go to Victor Harbour for a weekend in a small cosy cottage. Both holidays involve you having a break and relaxing, but the Europe cruise has far more choice and options for things to do than the local Victor trip.
Premium hearing aids have many, many more features than a basic model, but just like a holiday, both mean a break from the stress of straining to hear, particularly in quieter environments. However, the main differences lie in the way more advanced hearing aids can help you hear in a noisy or more challenging environment.
We like to think of most hearing aids falling into 4 main categories.
The main differences between each level of technology is the way they can reduce background noise and focus on speech clarity.
For example, in a noisy restaurant with your partner, a premium hearing aid can look around specifically for the background noise, drop it down and then focus a beam on the voice that you need to hear, lifting it out of the noise so you can laugh at the punchline of the joke or answer easily without missing a beat. Whereas a more basic hearing aid will be fabulous for TV but in noise, it is more difficult as it doesn’t have the moving microphones that automatically find the background noise to reduce it.
This also does not mean you always have to have a Premium level hearing aid!
Lyric is another option where you may a monthly fee and have a subscription allowing you to have new hearing aids inserted with latest technology every 2 – 3 months. See Lyric for more information.
We are extremely passionate about matching the right hearing aid to your lifestyle. Where you are having the most trouble hearing and what is most important to you is our main focus. And of course, it needs to fit within your budget. We really do pride ourselves on giving all the range of costs and options and you are NEVER EVER pushed into a hearing aid choice. The decision is yours and your family’s. The best thing is – you get to trial it first for free and make sure it is changing your life for the better and that it is worth it!
After trying other hearing aids twice before, I am delighted with the improvement in my ability to hear since Hearing Sense found the right ones for me.
Kelly was patient and meticulous in ensuring the best result possible.
I do not hesitate to recommend Kelly and Pavel for their professional dedication and friendly manner.
Valda Edwards, 83
Options in paying
When you invest in your hearing by choosing a hearing aid, there are a few things you should investigate in terms of payments.
Firstly, if you have private health cover, it is a good idea to find out from your private health fund how much you are entitled to, if you needed one or two hearing aids. You may also like to discuss claiming back for your hearing aids on your tax return with your accountant.
Secondly, if you are on a pension or a DVA white card for hearing or Gold Card holder, you will be entitled to free services through the government. See Pensioners & DVA clients – Free Services
Thirdly, if you have a work-related hearing loss or have ever had a Workcover claim for hearing, you may be entitled to highly advanced hearing devices at no cost to you as well as a payout. We specialise in WorkCover claims and can help you with this. See WorkCover for more information.
And lastly, we offer interest free payment plan options. Sometimes paying the hearing aid cost upfront can be difficult, especially if you know that you would like a specific level of technology. This is why we offer Ezi Debit which is an INTEREST FREE payment plan which allows you to spread the payments over a period of up to 6 months into more manageable chunks. Lots and lots of people use this system of ours and find it fantastic.
The fact is that sometimes hearing aids can be expensive. The good news is that they last many, many years. We often get asked why they last so long? This is because we can adjust and reprogram your hearing aids even if your hearing changes.
For example, recently a client had a terrible ear infection in his left ear and his hearing dropped quite significantly. By reprogramming and changing the receiver on his hearing aid, he was able to continue wearing his hearing aid and hear well. It took 6 months for his ear to get better, and as his hearing was slowly returning to its original level, we simply adjusted the aid every two weeks until it was stable again. All his appointments were FREE as we give you free appointments for the life of the aid with our Hearing Experience Package.
You are both top of the tree in your skills, as importantly you care so much it sets as a perfect result as you are able to work with those who have a battered auditory system. And thank you for the payment plan – was great to hear well straight away and pay it off slowly.
Dr Martin Buntley, 92
Lifetime of FREE appointments for your hearing aid - Hearing Experience Package
We are very committed to you and your hearing. That is why we offer free appointments, as many as you need for the lifetime of the hearing aids. This does not rely on the technology level you choose. This applies to Premium, Advanced, Performance and Basic hearing aids.
And by this, we don’t just mean slight programming adjustments. We mean the whole kit and caboodle.
We like to see you minimally once a year for an aid adjustment check up, but love it if you pop in every 6 months for a check and clean. Every two years, we do a full and complete retest of your hearing and reprogram your hearing aids to the latest levels. We will always send you reminders to come in and visit.
Of course, if you need anything in between, just book in. That is what we are here for. And it is all FREE.
In addition, our wonderful receptionists are fully trained to repair and clean your hearing aids. So we invite you to come in, have a latte or cappuccino on us, whilst she services your devices to make sure they are working wonderfully.
I suspect I am typical of the older person experiencing age-related hearing loss. Deafness runs in my family: my mother, father and grandmother were all deaf in their mature years, and each had various hearing devices over the years. So it was inevitable that I would go this way too.
I also suspect I am typical of the person with their head in the sand regarding their hearing loss. But there comes a time when it is too embarrassing to say “pardon” all the time, so you start to smile and say nothing in reply, hoping you haven’t made a big social blunder. It also becomes unpleasant to go to noisy bistros because you can’t hear conversations, so the inevitable social retreat begins. Then, even at home, having the TV blaring is a whole other story!!!
On the high recommendation of a friend, initially I had tried a free hearing aid trial with Kelly when I was in my mid-50’s and still working. Kelly’s approach and personality was so positive, and she was a delight. However, despite having a few problems hearing colleagues in the open office, at that stage I wasn’t totally convinced I really needed aids. I thought I could get by.
But very gradually over the years, my hearing deteriorated to the point where I really had to take action. I had since retired and was spending a good deal of time looking after young children, and I wanted to be sure my hearing was up to scratch.
After a gap of about 6 years, I had no hesitation in going straight back to Kelly at Hearing Sense for another trial – but this time I was ready to commit. Again, her openness, warmth and professionalism made the process so easy. It was reassuring to find out the exact state of my hearing loss, and choosing the right hearing aid was no problem at all.
The mid-range model she recommended suited me to a tee. It is compact, easy to use, and no-one knows it’s there. I hadn’t realised, but part of Kelly’s process involves a review appointment to literally fine-tune the equipment via a computer program to suit your specific hearing loss.
In short, having hearing aids has changed my life! No more ‘pardon’s. Lots more bistro dinners. Hearing feint children’s voices isn’t a problem, and at least now I know when they are making up silly words …or not. Going to the theatre is wonderful. Even the dialogue on the TV is clearer, and I can now rest assured the neighbours can’t hear it too. In general, I am so much more confident in simply living my life without the ever-present fear of not being able to hear.
I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending Kelly and Pavel Korcek at Hearing Sense. I wouldn’t go anywhere else! But please don’t wait like I did……go NOW!!!
Diana Kidd, 62