We have a range of hearing aids available at the centre from different manufacturers, such as Oticon, Phonak , Widex, Starkey and Siemens. As Tracy James Hearing is not tied to a specific manufacturer, this ensures that the best hearing aid (which is not necessarily the most expensive!) can be chosen based on individual needs and circumstances. Hearing aids cost between £1500 and £2200 per device. As part of the price, you are paying for your individualised service with Tracy James throughout the lifetime of the hearing aid. There are many considerations for the audiologist to evaluate with you when prescribing a hearing aid; some of these considerations are discussed below along with a description of the fitting process.
Different Types of Hearing Aids
|CIC/ITE ||Here we have custom-made completely in the canal (CIC) and in the ear (ITE) hearing aids. They are made from impressions of the ear. The benefits of CIC or ITEs are that they are very discrete and sometimes invisible to other people. As they are enclosed within the ear canal, they are more prone to damage from wax and debris entering the hearing aid. A consideration is that the hearing aids need to be re-shelled if the ear changes size or shape.|
|RITE / RIC||These are Receiver In The Ear (RITE) hearing aids. The advantages of these hearing aids are that they are small, light and discrete. They also have a very good natural sound due to the fact that the ear is not fully occluded – some louder, natural sounds are able to enter the ear without amplification. Because the Receiver (or part of the hearing aid that provides the sound) sits in the ear canal it means that there is less feedback than conventional hearing aids and there can be greater amplification. Therefore they can be suitable for mild to severe hearing losses. A consideration is that the Receiver is more prone to damage from wax and debris / moisture because it sits inside the canal. Because the hearing aid is lighter, it does not stay in the ear as well as a BTE (below) if you are particularly active.|
|BTE||A behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid with an earmould is useful for growing ears and for those with hearing loss up to profound level. The earmould is custom made to the size and shape of the ear and can be re-made as the ear changes size or shape. Earmoulds are made with impressions of the ear. Earmoulds can be hard or soft, open or closed depending on the level of hearing loss and preference. Earmoulds and hearing aids can come in many patterns and colours including glitter! An advantage of this type of hearing aid is that it is very robust and less prone to feedback for severe and profound hearing losses. It also stays in the ear very well. A consideration is that BTEs do not always fit unusually shaped ears and can be difficult to fit when wearing hats or glasses.|
|BC/BAHA ||Bone Conduction hearing aids (BC or BAHA) are also available in soft or hard bands. Bone conduction aids are useful when there is a permanent or persistent conductive or mixed hearing hearing loss. Bone conduction aids are used when conventional hearing aids cannot be worn or are not beneficial. Bone conduction hearing aids can be fitted for one or both ears and can also be fitted to glasses.|
|These ready to wear invisible hearing aids are suitable for mild to moderate losses. They are great because they don’t require any re-shelling (a consideration if you have growing ears!) and no impressions are required. They come with domes that clip on the end of the hearing aid that is fitted for the size of the ear. Suitable for teenagers and adults with a mild to moderate hearing loss who would like an invisible hearing aid. Trials are available for this hearing aid if you want to see if it suits you before purchasing.|
How are hearing aids prescribed?
Hearing aids styles (see above) at Tracy James Hearing are chosen first and foremost on the level and type of hearing loss and the size or shape of the ear. Our aim is that the hearing aid(s) provide optimum audibility and comfort, and that you and/or your child is happy with how the hearing aid looks and fits in the ear.
Other factors that influence choice include:
- Robustness of the aid (e.g. waterproofing)
- Compatibility with other devices, e.g. FM systems, telecoil
- Dexterity of user, health and lifestyle
For children, other factors are also important to consider:
- Colours and patterns that are available
- Tamperproof battery drawers
- Visible indicators (e.g. lights to show when the hearing aid is switched on)
- Paediatric hooks for the ear
- Approval by the national paediatric hearing aid quality group (British Academy of Audiology).
All hearing aids are verified using real ear measurements, as recommended by the British Society of Audiology (BSA). This procedure ensures that the hearing aid prescription is being reached in the ear, by measuring the output of the hearing aid using a probe microphone and a speaker.
As everyone’s ear is different, sound behaves differently when it enters the ear. A real ear measurement allows the audiologist to fine tune the gain of the hearing aid so that it amplifies appropriately. Think of it as buying a tailor-made suit rather than a suit off the shelf! In children there is even greater variation in ear size, and as they grow – making this measurement even more important.
Speech and aided listening checks can be used in clinic to evaluate the hearing aid effectiveness, along with a detailed evaluation by the audiologist.
What technology is important when choosing a hearing aid?
All manufacturers have branded technology that often comes under a trademark ™ – so knowing what technology you have can be confusing. All hearing aids at Tracy James hearing have directional microphones (important for listening in noise), noise reduction (important for general listening comfort) and wireless capability (for listening to devices remotely, e.g. mobile phones, clip on microphones). Some hearing aids have the ability to move or compress non-audible sounds or speech (according to the measured hearing loss) to an area in the ear that is audible (known as frequency compression). Some hearing aids have wider bandwidths than others which means that a greater spectrum of sound may be available to the listener.
Other factors that may be important include number of programmes, volume control, music amplification, wind noise reduction, telecoil use, availability of remote control (e.g. using an app on your phone) and compatibility with other devices. Every hearing aid will be slightly different in terms of the technology available, and you will discuss this with your Audiologist
What happens if my hearing changes?
All hearing aids are fitted with some ‘headroom’ that allows for hearing change. If hearing changes then the amplification can be adjusted to the new prescription, based on the new hearing test. Your audiologist will discuss with you any considerations related to hearing change, which will relate to the cause of the hearing loss.
Can I change my mind?
After the hearing aid is fitted you will have the opportunity to attend follow ups in order to fine tune the settings based on your observations, experiences and/or preferences. We may also evaluate the hearing aid using aided listening checks and speech tests. Some fine tuning can also be done remotely for certain hearing aids / clients. If you decide you don’t like or want the hearing aid then the full cost of the hearing aid(s) can be refunded within 8 weeks of the fitting.