/ Hearing Aid advice - what's out there and what actually works?

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ksjs - on 04 Jan 2013
I'm posting on behalf of a relative who has significant hearing loss in one ear. He has used an NHS type hearing aid since getting a hearing aid but, with the hearing loss increasing recently, decided to look at alternatives.

Following a visit to Hidden Hearing he is currently trying out the Oticon K210 Rite [P] hearing aid. So far however this hasn't brought any real improvement versus the NHS hearing aid.

I understand the main problem is in crowd settings where it seems that all sounds are getting amplified and voices for example, on TV or amongst friends, merge into the general sounds.

I think there may be a degree of acceptance / resignation going here i.e. there's really not much that can be done. I can't believe however that there aren't more than 2 options (NHS issue and Hidden Hearing's recommendation) out there to try.

So, if anyone can suggest other hearing aid types that may be worth looking into and where to get these, it would be much appreciated.

If it helps, I believe the hearing loss is conductive but I will check.
Tall Clare - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to ksjs:

My stepdad's had hearing aids for years, with varying degrees of success - he now has some very fancy digital ones that have pretty much changed his life, as he's able to hear conversations, drown out background noise, have a handsfree function on his phone that really works... The downside to them is that they're £2k per ear... I'll find out what sort they are though.
ksjs - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: The Oticon I mention above is about £2,500 I believe but the money isn't the issue. I know there has been teething problems with regard to the level of technology and I wonder has this limited the positive effects of the hearing aid?
Tall Clare - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to ksjs:

This might be unrelated, but my sister-in-law's sister is a design journalist and she curated a show a couple of years ago at the V&A called 'hearwear', all about developments in hearing aid technology (and raising awareness of hearing issues) - her interest is personal as she's profoundly deaf.
Rob Exile Ward on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to ksjs: I've vaguely been involved with hearing and it's a hidous business because although the instruments are *relatively* cheap - providing the aftercare and service necessary to make them work effectively (i.e. tune them to the user requirements, provide training on the features and keeping them clean) is EXTREMELY expensive - not least because you are dealing with - er - deaf people!

I persuaded my Dad to spend £2000 on his, I'm not sure how much benefit he got though because the aftercare wasn't as good as it might have been (mind you, he did live on top of a hill) and he was a stubborn old beggar anyway.

A number of opticians will provide hearing services, usually via a 3rd party, if you choose a good independent optician they will have their own reputation to consider and will also provide a location where your relative can physically go to have the instrument serviced, get new batteries etc.

My understanding is that it is very much a world of diminishing returns, i.e. you have to pay quite a lot more for quite a small increase in performance, but it may well be worth it.
Rob Exile Ward on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward: I meant to mention - people don't like paying for service, even though they need it, appreciate it and miss it when it isn't there, which is why instruments costing a few hundred £s retail at £1,000s - that's the way it is.
Will Caesar - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to ksjs: I have used hearing aids all my life, from analogues right through to the now standard digital hearing aids.

Digital hearing aids, at least the ones I've used, come with a choice of settings or channels as such that can be changed by pressing a button on the hearing aid. You can hook the hearing aid up to a machine and have it altered while its in your ear. This allows you to have settings for noisy environments as well as 'phone' and 'outdoor'. I have had all this under the NHS and it works fairly well. Especially the 'Off' setting for exceptionally boring people you have to socialise with.

I must stress that with ALL hearing aids you cannot get a clear idea of how well it is performing for you until you have worn it day in day out for a good few weeks (audiologist recommendation) to allow your brain to adjust. The sound is likely to be subtly different and will require 'new paths' as such to be established in the brain. It took me a lot of headache and concentration to focus on general conversation when i got my first one.

I know this does not exactly answer your question on models but it may help. Ive no experience of top end hearing aids but mine i think is worth about 500 squids and many people are shocked when i say i wear a hearing aid (mine is a visible but in the ear model and they are not as good as the hook over the ear jobbys which i would imagine your relative has been offered)

Will Caesar - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to Will Caesar: I should add that my hearing loss is mild so the above experiences may only apply to me and others with similar loss. Even so, getting used to the hearing aid is applicable to all types of loss.

Good luck.
lost1977 - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to Will Caesar:

i got my hearing aids yesterday and absolutely love them (very standard basic NHS oticon spirit zest) and having them tuned to how my hearing is at the moment i am amazed by the difference
ksjs - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward: You mention aftercare / service - I would have thought that it was simply a question of reading up, playing with settings and being organised (to clean etc)? I guess though I'm comfortable with technology and that's not the same for everyone.
ksjs - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to Will Caesar: Reading this and Rob Exile's post above it sounds that some (a lot?) of the value in hearing aids comes from working with experts to ensure settings are right / tune the hearing aid. I would have thought you got a hearing aid, set it up and that was that but maybe not.
ksjs - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to lost1977: You say 'hearing aids', I assume you have 2? How would describe your hearing loss as in is it major or less severe? What percentage benefit would you give the improvement in hearing since wearing the hearing aids e.g. 10%, 50% etc? How expert are you with the settings, are there many settings?

Sorry to be intrusive but answers to the above might help shed a bit more light on what's possible. Thanks.
lost1977 - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to ksjs:

i have 2 and i have only just got them, i have had always had hearing loss which i as a child i was told that no assistance was needed (35 years later i realise that was untrue). my level of hearing loss is the severe end of moderate and having worn my aids for almost 2 days now the level of improvement is 100%+ (i'm simply hearing sounds in a way i have never heard before). my hearing test was only done about a month ago so they have been able to tune my aids to how my hearing is at the moment which i think is one of the most important things. only settings i have is the normal mode and t mode
browndog33 - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to lost1977: My hearing background (and age)very closely resembles yours, so I'm really interested how you are finding things. I went out for a meal at xmas and really struggled with conversation, at one point I decided that that was it- I had to get hearing aids in the new year, unfortuntely my vanity has stopped me so far
lost1977 - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to browndog33:

don't let vanity put you off even my cheapo nhs aids arent exactly noticeable unless you look for them, from the front all thats visable is a small clear tube and from the side i dont think anything is visable. i have found a few noise annoyances but i have the choice to turn off
In reply to ksjs:As I said in another thread, I have two "in ear" hearing aids, they are virtually invisible. I use them as tools, when the job requires them I put them in, otherwise I do not bother. Driving with them in is a non starter, as they compress all the background noise in, they aren’t that good in party situations either..

I've had this pair for 6 years now, may think of investing in more modern ones soon.
lost1977 - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to browndog33:

i ended up realising that my hearing loss was more of an embarrassment than i perceived hearing aids would be
browndog33 - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to lost1977: Yea- I'm very close to that point myself..
Will Caesar - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to browndog33: There is the old perception that hearing aids are for 'old gibbers' and wearing one will make you stand out and be different.

It just isn't the case these days. About the most annoying thing about wearing a hearing aid initially is catching people looking at it. You get over that very quickly once you become comfortable with the aid. The key is to give it time. Every single hearing aid I have ever used I initially hated as the sound was so different each time.

I can guarantee that this time next year you'll wonder what all the fuss was about. Its just that initial leap out of your comfort zone.
Will Caesar - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to stroppygob: Even the most basic NHS hearing aids will be much better than the ones you currently use. Takes a bit to get used to but they really are amazing things. You can have 'In Car' settings that basically allow you to hear conversation and music easier, over the engine noise.

If you live in Manchester I can strongly recommend going to Withington Hospital and chatting to head of audiology there. She used to be in the private sector and is very knowledgeable/helpful.
In reply to ksjs: Thanks Will, I live in Aus though!
Will Caesar - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to stroppygob: Nevermind! I'm sure you'll find something that works. Drop me a message if you have any other questions. Happy to help.
In reply to Will Caesar: Many thanks Will, that's kind of you.

What do you think is the "best" aid out there now?
Will Caesar - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to stroppygob: Couldn't honestly say as I tend to get what I'm given from the NHS and that usually is fine. The hearing aid I currently have is a Siemens model. As I said before though, the 'hook over the ear' ones are much better, especially in pair as they work together to process sound.

Depends on your loss level too. Best bet is to have a chat to a specialist audiologist.

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